I was in Detroit, Michigan over the weekend to work with Dan Mannes, multimedia producer for the Detroit Red Wings. Dan had me on photo duty for the night. My job was to send off shots in between periods for the team to use on social media. I knew it would be great experience in quick photo turnaround, especially for an NHL game.
I did not know I’d be involved in an unlikely incident.
I was at the side hole during the first period. This was my fifth time shooting an NHL game at a camera hole, and I’m still learning. One precaution I take is that when the play looks like it may hit the glass in front of me, I back off. Sometimes I’m able to switch cameras in time for the wide angle, but usually it’s too quick. So about half way through the first, I saw Francois Beauchemin coming up the side from the corner. I had my camera down (thankfully), because I was anticipating Darren Helm would bring him against the glass in front of me.
Then it hit me.
I leaned to the side after realizing I had taken a blow to the face but I couldn’t figure out how. I knew it was a puck by the way I could feel the shape of it swelling on my cheekbone.
Last time I was hit at a game, Matt Moulson’s stick had caught my forehead through the camera hole in Buffalo two years ago. Having that experience also helped me come to the conclusion that it was the puck this time. Video confirmed it.
I didn’t realize a fan was hit until I noticed everyone’s attention to my right as the Avalanche players came up to the glass. Calvin Pickard came up to me to check if I was okay. As the goalie watching the puck, he must have been the only one to have seen it ricochet off my face before it hit the fan. He and the woman next to me helped make sure that the medical staff knew I was hit too but I told them I felt okay and that I could wait, especially since the fan was bleeding and I wasn’t. I’m very lucky to have had it only hit the side of my face rather than straight on to my mouth like the poor guy in the stands. But I’m even more overjoyed by the fact that my camera was not involved. I’ve heard horror stories of shattered lenses and it is always in the back of my mind on game days.
The Red Wings staff was great. They took care of both of us wonderfully. I was a little more paranoid the rest of the first period, but I kept on shooting because this is all part of the job. It’s remarkable that I’ve now been hit twice in the five games I’ve shot when it is such a rare occurrence. Backing away from the glass might not always save you, but it may just save your equipment.
This was the greatest game I’ve covered to date. I’m so proud of how everything turned out. Enjoy the collection from Detroit below: