One of the things I liked about covering the Blackhawks for the Chicago Sun-Times was that we really knew the guys, who were great guys. We had time to ask them about things. And room to write about it.

Things like. . . Were you really angry when you dropped the gloves and fought, or was it a strategic thing?

And. . . What’s your most gruesome knocked-out-teeth story?

I’m thinking of that today—along the lines of “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.” 

And so, while we’re waiting for presents—and football—here’s a story from the vault: A piece I did in 1990 about hockey players losing their teeth. . . 

Happy Holidays to everyone in our TMGcollegesports.com family.

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Here’s a story you can sink your teeth into.

Right from the beginning, Denis Savard was impressed by Jeremy Roenick, his heir apparent as the Blackhawks’ offensive catalyst.

But when Roenick lost a couple of teeth courtesy of Glen Featherstone’s cross-check in last year’s playoffs against St. Louis, spat out the teeth fragments so the referee would call a major penalty, then scored the game-winning goal, Savard knew.

“That’s when I felt Jeremy was going to be real good,” Savard said. “Sometimes a guy will play timid after something like that. Jeremy came back and played hard. He’s not afraid of anything.”

Teeth. It’s a subject every hockey player learns to live with – and without.

Savard wears caps on four front teeth, courtesy of a wayward stick when he was 8 or 10. It happened so long ago, the details are foggy.

“It’s nice to have your front teeth, but I’ve got the important ones – the back ones,” said Savard, who knows where to chew the steak.

As for Roenick, he had survived with his pearly whites intact until the Featherstone incident. But it was no big deal, he said.

“When I was a kid, I used to tell my mom, `Why should I go to the dentist? I’m going to lose them anyway,’ ” Roenick said. “It’s a lot easier to go out there now that it’s happened. I know what it feels like. Knock on wood, it won’t happen again. But if it does, I’ll just have them capped again.”

That’s the approach most players take. They have little defense except for mouthguards that make it hard to breathe and talk – and don’t offer much protection, anyway.

“I got hit by a two-handed home run swing,” said Michel Goulet, who lost three front teeth during a scramble in front of the Quebec net three years ago while playing for the Nordiques against Pittsburgh. “Against a shot like that, a mouthguard wouldn’t have helped.

“I don’t remember who it was. I was knocked out. All I remember was it was at the end of the game. I was so mad.” The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.