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Boston's Matt Hunwick was rushed to hospital Saturday and had surgery to remove his spleen. ((Winslow Townson/Associated Press))

Boston Bruins defenceman Matt Hunwick had surgery to remove his ruptured spleen after being rushed to hospital Saturday.

Hunwick had appeared fine when he arrived in Wilmington, Mass., for a team meeting in the morning, but he began to feel ill shortly after. That prompted the training staff to call for an ambulance.

Hunwick, who turns 24 next month, had a splenectomy performed Saturday afternoon and was recuperating in hospital.

"He's comfortable and he's resting in his room," said team physician Dr. Peter Asnis. "His spirits are high and he'll be there for a couple of days."

"His playing career should not be affected, he should have a 100 per cent full recovery," Asnis added.

"The only thing for his health is that he'll get additional immunizations. But there are players in contact sports at the professional level playing without a spleen."

Injured in Game 1

Hunwick, a seventh-round pick in the 2004 NHL entry draft, is in his second season with the Bruins. He played in 53 games this year, scoring six goals and adding 21 assists.

The club believes Hunwick's injury resulted from an otherwise ordinary collision during the series opener with Montreal on Thursday.

He went to the hospital Friday, but his condition was considered stable after blood work and an examination.

Shortly after players began arriving for Saturday's practice, reporters were suddenly asked to leave the team dressing room. Moments later, two police cruisers and two fire trucks were seen leaving the arena.

The injury is not without precedent in hockey. Perhaps most famously, Peter Forsberg sat out the 2001-02 season for the Colorado Avalanche with a ruptured spleen.

The spleen is an organ in the abdomen that destroys unneeded red blood cells and holds a reservoir of blood. Since it's part of the immune system, its removal can make a person more vulnerable to some infections.

Veteran Shane Hnidy was inserted into the lineup for Game 2 of the club's NHL Eastern Conference playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

With files from The Associated Press