Woods accident causes Vigneault, Braun to reflect

Alain Vigneault

      Any professional athlete will tell you about gratitude for their gift when it comes to their line of work.

      That especially comes into focus when it goes beyond sports and affects quality of life.

      So it came as no surprise Wednesday when both Flyers coach Alain Vigneault and defenseman Justin Braun discussed their reaction to Tuesday’s automobile accident involving golfer Tiger Woods.

      While the injuries suffered by Woods in the mishap on a California highway were not life-threatening, a long rehabilitation is expected.

      If nothing else, the incident goes to show just how precious, and possibly fleeting, good health can be.

      There was a general feeling Woods was fortunate to get out of the scary situation alive. Anyone who saw the photos probably contemplated briefly about their own mortality.

      Braun, who recently recovered from a bout with COVID-19, said when he heard and saw details of the Woods crash, it made him stop and think.

      “It’s tough to see,’’ Braun said in a media Zoom call after Wednesday morning’s limited skate at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey. “He (Woods) is trying to make another comeback after (back) surgery. You wake up and the guy’s rolled over in a car accident.

      “It does make you think. It kind of feels pretty surreal, that life can change that quick. You can be playing hockey one day, the next day you could be rolled up in a hospital or worse.’’

      Fortunately, Woods escaped with only some severe injuries to his right leg and with medical science being what it is today, there’s probably hope that he can make a comeback the way Washington quarterback Alex Smith did with similar leg damage.

      At least that’s what Braun is thinking about.

      “So you just have to be thankful for every day,’’ Braun said. “I hope he’s going to be fine.’’

      Vigneault has coached some of the best athletes in his sport and has an appreciation for how fortunes can turn on a dime.

      “There’s no doubt you’re looking at one of the best alltime in all sports,’’ Vigneault said. “Last night on TV, any station you went to, people were talking about it.

      “He’s made an impact in the world and how we look at different things. I think everybody’s prayers are going out to him.’’

      >Braun has increased respect for COVID severity

      Like captain Claude Giroux, Braun went through a few tough days with COVID symptoms down in Washington after the game against the Caps on Sunday, Feb. 7. He’s just now getting his legs back under him.

      “It was tough,’’ Braun recalled. “Probably four or five days where I was not in good shape. But after that, it was recover and a lot of sleep. Just try and get my energy back.’’

      Braun hopes to return to action on Saturday when the Flyers visit Buffalo.

      The veteran said he had to remain in quarantine in D.C. for 11 days. That’s a long time to be in isolation, away from family and friends.

      “Family-wise, it was probably ideal so I didn’t give them any infections,’’ Braun said. “It was mentally tough but good to know the family was safe at home. They tested negative and they’re good to go.’’

      Like a lot of players, Braun didn’t really worry about the virus until he fell victim to it.

      “I never really took it serious to begin with,’’ he said. “But when you’re in it, you can kind of see how that can go from bad to worse pretty quick, when the symptoms kick in. You don’t really know when they’re going to taper off and when you’re going to be at the peak.

      “It gets more worrisome as the symptoms are coming on. Thankfully, they kind of just popped out for me and weren’t too bad.’’

      >Any difference not facing Panarin?

      The Flyers knew Rangers’ No. 1 star Artemi Panarin would not be playing Wednesday night due to a political situation involving matters back home in his native Russia. He’s on indefinite leave.

      Any difference playing a team that might be a little more motivated playing without it’s best performer?

      “There’s no doubt when any team loses any player, it’s an opportunity for someone else to step in,’’ Vigneault said diplomatically. “We’re sort of in the game boat here, getting one guy back (captain Claude Giroux). But there are a lot of guys missing. That’s a lot of opportunities for other guys to step up.’’

      >Provorov set to break record

      Ivan Provorov was scheduled to play in his 331st straight game vs. the Rangers. That would set a National Hockey League record for most consecutive games played by a defenseman from the start of a career, which was held by ex-Rangers backliner Dan Girardi.

About Wayne Fish 1464 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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