Ryan Donato will be making his return to the Bruins from the AHL this week, bringing with him a classic tale of pro hockey dental nightmares.
Donato struggled through 11 games with the Bruins earlier this season, posting a minus-four rating and a single goal. He was reassigned to Providence at the beginning of November, posting nine points over the 10 games he played there. Donato’s hard work in the AHL paid off— he was recalled to the Bruins on Wednesday and is expected to be on the ice for Thursday’s game against the Islanders, to show off the skills he honed while down in Providence.
But this time around, he’ll be doing it with five fewer teeth.
Donato took a puck to the mouth last week during a P-Bruins practice. Teammate Mark McNeill fired a shot on net after getting a pass from Donato, but the puck ricocheted off goalkeeper Daniel Vladar’s equipment and right into Donato’s mouth as he crashed the net for the rebound.
The 22-year-old finished practice with missing teeth and busted lips before heading to the dentist, where he spent nearly five hours in the chair getting his injury tended to.
“I started getting a little nervous when they got out the hammer, and the screw driver and the heavy duty tools,” Donato said, per NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty. “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.”
According to Haggerty, part of the issue was the small size of Donato’s teeth, and that one tooth cracked down to the gums and had to be removed along with the front two upper and lower teeth.
Losing five teeth, the Massachusetts native is following in the steps of his father, longtime NHL-er Ted Donato. The elder Donato lost five teeth total during his 13-year career, but lost them “one at a time rather than getting them all out at once.”
Like father, like son.