How much time have other hockey players missed with a broken jaw?

Sam Cohn
June 05, 2019 - 12:59 pm

Christian Fauria broke the news Tuesday afternoon that Zdeno Chara suffered a broken jaw in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. With the Bruins captain's status for the remainder of the series up in the air, we thought it would be useful to take a look at other hockey players who have had a broken jaw and how long it took them to return to the ice.

Obviously, it’s important to note that not every broken jaw is the same. As you'll see from this list, players have missed anywhere from just one game to multiple months.

Here's a look at some notable cases:

- Former Pittsburgh Penguin Rick Tocchet suffered a broken jaw after taking a puck to the face from teammate Mario Lemieux in March 1992, but only missed one game and returned four days later with protective face gear. Tocchet went on to be a key contributor that spring as the Penguins won their second straight Stanley Cup.

- Philadelphia Flyers forward Jeremy Roenick was famously hit in the face by a slap shot from Boris Mironov in Feb. 2004. Roenick tried to keep playing to get his revenge but described the injury as swelling his face to the size of a pumpkin. He also suffered his ninth concussion from the shot and ended up missing more than a month of hockey.

- Chris Kreider suffered a broken jaw during the 2011 Boston College season when teammate Brian Gibbons attempted to clear the puck but it ended up on the inside of Kreider’s face mask. He was able to return for the NCAA Tournament later that month after missing five games with a broken jaw.

- Sidney Crosby’s teammate, defenseman Brooks Orpik, took a hard shot from the point that deflected off another player before hitting Crosby in the face in March 2013. Crosby missed the final 12 games of the regular season but was able to return for the Penguins' playoff run.

- The New York Rangers saw some serious hockey toughness in May 2014 when Derek Stepan took a helmet and shoulder to the mouth and was later diagnosed with a broken jaw. Stepan missed just one game before returning five days later for Game 5 of a playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens. He scored twice in that first game back.

- Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin was ruled out for 4-6 weeks with a broken jaw in Dec. 2016. He was on the wrong side of a slap shot to the face from New Jersey Devils defenseman Andy Greene. Dumoulin was later placed on long-term injured reserve. It's worth noting that players tend to miss more time if this injury happens in the regular season rather than playoff time, since they'll get all their surgeries out of the way then instead of undergoing a quick fix and playing through the pain for an extended period of time.

- Jesper Bratt, a forward for the New Jersey Devils, was sidelined for 2-3 weeks with a broken jaw back in October of last year. The 20-year-old was hit in the face with a puck after a shot ricocheted off the crossbar.

- Zach Aston-Reese missed the remainder of the postseason and took four months to be fully back to normal after a big hit from Capitals forward Tom Wilson in a playoff series last spring. Aston-Reese suffered a broken jaw and a concussion on the hit.

- Wrapping things up with one of the Bruins' opponents this series, Blues defenseman Vince Dunn took a puck to the mouth in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the Sharks. Dunn missed six games with a broken jaw before returning for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final with wires still in his mouth from the work he had done. He even played without a face mask in his return.

Based on these examples, Chara returning three days later for Game 5 Thursday night would seem like a real stretch. But if he can recover as quickly as Tocchet or Stepan did, perhaps a return for Game 6 or 7 would be possible.

The Big Bad Blog is presented by: 

 Technology Decisions Aren't Black and White. Think Red. Click here for more.