PHILADELPHIA - Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt was hit by an SUV early Tuesday morning while crossing the street but suffered no serious injuries and played 17 minutes last night against the Flyers.
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Witt braced himself for impact and attempted to jump on the hood, which he slid across before being thrown to the ground.
Several concerned onlookers gathered around Witt to see if he was OK. Witt, known around the NHL for his grit and toughness, affirmed his reputation when he essentially dusted himself off, hurled a few obscenities at the driver and told everyone he was fine.
"I'm OK," Witt said he told the crowd. "I've got to go play some hockey. I'm a hockey player. I'm OK. No big deal."
One man who witnessed the chain of events from Starbucks couldn't believe he saw Witt, 34, walk away from the incident virtually unscathed.
"Boy, that guy is tough," he said. "It was like seeing Clint Eastwood, but in hockey. I really thought a Hollywood movie was being made. I was looking around for cameras. I can't believe how tough this guy is. It's insanity."
Earlier, two members of the medical staff had asked Witt if he wanted a ride to Wachovia Center minutes before he was struck, but he declined so that he could make a java run.
Witt, who opted not to phone police or seek medical care, said he felt only some soreness on his left side.
"I just got lucky," Witt said. "Fortunately, nothing bad happened. I'm just a little sore."
Witt, who described the morning as "pretty crazy," participated in the team's morning skate at Wachovia Center.
"Unbelievable," Witt's teammate and fellow defenseman Jack Hillen said. "I've never heard anything like that. That just goes to show you how tough he is."
The people who know Witt well weren't surprised that he could so casually brush off the frightening incident. "The car probably has more damage," coach Scott Gordon joked.
Oh, and don't think Witt was going to let a little, measly SUV get in the way of his morning coffee. After shaking off the incident, Witt crossed the street and finally ordered himself that latte.