BRIGHTON -- Ryan Donato certainly paid his dues by making a trip to the AHL with the Providence Bruins over the last few weeks.
The former Harvard University star made the big club out of training camp, but struggled both offensively and defensively with just one goal in 11 games along with a minus-4 rating. He was sent to Providence and improved his board work, defense, and overall play without the puck, and also posted five goals and nine points in 10 games.
It also gave him a classic pro hockey dental work story, too, as an errant shot at P-Bruins practice ended up costing Donato five of his teeth and put him in a dentist's chair for four to five hours.
Donato recalled the details on Wednesday morning following his first practice back in Boston since getting recalled amid some injuries and ineffectiveness up front with the B’s forward group.
The incident happened Nov. 20 as Mark McNeill fired a shot at the net after getting a pass from Donato. The puck ricocheted off Daniel Vladar’s equipment and right into Donato's mouth as he crashed the net for the rebound.
Donato finished practice with the missing teeth and his lips ripped open, went to the dentist, and then returned to play for Providence one night later.
“I started getting a little nervous when they got out the hammer, and the screw driver and the heavy duty tools,” said Donato. “I had a broken femur in college, so I’ve felt some pretty bad pain before. But the five hours in the dentist’s chair having teeth removed was about as in-pain and uncomfortable as I’ve ever been.”
Apparently part of the issue was the relatively small size of Donato’s teeth, and that one tooth was cracked down to the gums and had to be removed along with the front two upper and lower teeth. The five lost teeth equaled the number his father lost in his long NHL career, but Ryan said Ted Donato lost them “one at a time rather than getting them all out at once."
Hockey players never cease to amaze with their toughness and willingness to come back from just about anything. Donato proved it once again.
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