The NHL / Chris Baker : Giles Is Tough Enough to Watch

How tough are hockey players?

Curt Giles, a defenseman for the Minnesota North Stars, reportedly watched last week as doctors amputated his left ring finger at the second knuckle. Giles had been given a local anesthetic.

Giles, the North Stars’ most valuable player last season, had a tumor removed from that finger last season, but the tumor grew back.

The pain in the finger got so bad that doctors decided to amputate.


“I can’t sleep. I can’t shoot. I can’t hold a stick,” Giles told the Associated Press. “But they say you’re supposed to play with pain, so I played. It finally came to the point where something had to be done because I knew I wasn’t effective this way.”

Giles has resumed skating with the team and is expected back for the playoffs next week.

He will be fitted with a special splint that he will wear under his glove, allowing him to grip his stick.

Ray Staszak became the first rookie in the National Hockey League to sign a $1 million contract last season.


But Staszak was a bust with the Detroit Red Wings. He spent most of the season in the minors.

Monday the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Dwight Mathiasen, a free agent from the University of Denver, to a reported $1.2 million, four-year contract which includes a $250,000 signing bonus.

“This is probably the happiest day of my life,” Mathiasen said.

Mathiasen reportedly turned down a $1.4 million offer from the Vancouver Canucks, even though he lives in a suburb of Vancouver.



Mathiasen apparently wants to play with center Mario Lemieux of the Penguins.

When right wing Ray Neufeld of the Winnipeg Jets scored three goals in a 5-2 win over the Kings Monday night, it marked the first hat trick of his career, including youth hockey.

Neufeld hasn’t spoken to the media for the last month. He apparently believes that Winnipeg reporters treated him unfairly when he was traded to Winnipeg from the Hartford Whalers earlier this season for defenseman Dave Babych, one of the Jets’ team leaders.


Neufeld said, however, that he plans to end his silence soon.

“I’m going to lift the ban for next season,” he told a Winnipeg sportswriter. “I felt kind of stupid not talking to the media. But I have to treat everyone the same.”

Veteran referee Dave Newell broke three ribs when he was crushed between two players last week in Boston during a game between the Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens.

One of the linesmen was going to take over as the referee, but in the crowd was Paul Stewart, an American Hockey League referee who had gone to the game as a fan. Stewart was invited to work the game.


Stewart later made a controversial call, disallowing a goal that would have given the Bruins a 4-2 lead.

The game would up in a 3-3 tie.

Reporters started looking through NHL record books after Mark Messier of the Edmonton Oilers had scored two short-handed goals just 30 seconds apart in a recent game.

But the NHL doesn’t keep records for the fastest consecutive short-handed goals.


Messier was ready to proclaim himself the record-holder until a Buffalo scout attending the game set the record straight.

Don Luce, a scout for the Sabres, said that he had once scored two short-handed goals in 11 seconds while he was playing for Buffalo.

So much for Messier’s record.