It was a very somber, but relieved Paul Ranger who wandered into the dressing room to meet with the media following practice – which he did not participate in – Friday morning at MasterCard Centre.
Two nights earlier, with time running out in the first period against Tampa Bay at Air Canada Centre, Ranger was hit from behind hard into the end boards and laid motionless on the ice for a long period of time. Alex Killorn of the Lighting hit Ranger, extending his arms at the time of the collision, and was assessed a five-minute major for boarding and game misconduct.
The NHL did not assess supplemental discipline to Killorn.
'I remember just feeling pain and, I don’t want to get into details because I don’t want to relive it, but I know by body and my mind went into preservation mode. All I could think was, ‘Don’t move, stay straight and breathe.' - Leafs' Paul Ranger
It was a nasty hit that brought a sudden hush over the entire arena.
“I’m okay,” Ranger said quietly to the press, adding he has a sore neck, but no concussion. “I’m thankful. It was pretty scary. I’m okay.”
Ranger said when he was hit, he went into shock.
“It happened really quickly,” Ranger said. “I remember just feeling pain and, I don’t want to get into details because I don’t want to relive it, but I know by body and my mind went into preservation mode. All I could think was, ‘Don’t move, stay straight and breathe.’ I just breathed three in and three out for the next 3 ½-4 hours. I stayed pretty relaxed. I mean, I was anxious at the time, but from the doctors said, I was very relaxed and co-operated the whole time.”
Ranger took a moment to thank to doctors and training staffs from both teams that attended to him.
“They did a great job all around,” Ranger said. “Even through that stressful time I felt comforted and loved.”
Asked if there was a time while he was lying on the ice, which lasted around 20 minutes, if Ranger felt he was going to be alright, he said, “You’ve got to tell yourself that, I think. I really didn’t know what was going to happen. It’s scary, but I just remember thinking I am going to be okay. I don’t know what’s going on, but I can move my legs, I can feel my hands, I can feel my feet. I’m going to be okay, no matter what.”
Ranger said Killorn reached out to him, but said he’d prefer to keep the details of that conversation private. He also said he has no idea how long he will be out.
Ranger was drafted by the Lightning in 2002 and played a little over four years for Tampa Bay before retiring from hockey for three years. He joined the AHL Toronto Marlies last season and signed a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs last summer.
It hasn’t been an easy year. There have been challenges getting back up to NHL speed and he has been a healthy scratch on a number of occasions. Recently, however, the Maple Leafs have been dressing seven defencemen and his play has improved.
Asked what will happen when he faces his next hit in a game, Ranger smiled and said, “The guy is going to be on the ice.”
Ranger did not comment on the fact Killorn did not receive supplemental discipline, but said, “I didn’t see the replays; nor do I want to. I watched it once from one angle and that was enough. I think it is something that happens a lot in our game and it’s dangerous. It maybe needs some looking at. From what I gather about him, he’s a good kid and I felt from the start it wasn’t intentional. He never means to hurt anybody and I play that way, too.
“Given that, it is an action and it can be very dangerous. There is some reviewing hat should be done for the safety of myself and everyone else…future players. I’m fortunate that I am really strong and really fit. That really helped and probably saved me.”
Ranger was driven to MasterCard Centre by his father to be part of the team picture that was taken before practice.