Bryan Altman, CBS Local Sports

If you’ve played sports at any level you know that one of the first rules is to always make sure you’re wearing the proper protective equipment. Helmet, gloves, shin guards, chest protectors – they all serve a purpose when it comes to keeping you safe and keeping your fragile body in tact.

Now, those pieces of equipment are all vital, there’s no doubt about that. But on Thursday night, we got another reminder that there’s one piece of equipment – one that often goes unseen and unheralded, mind you – that might be the most valuable of them all.

That of course, would be the cup, a protective devise that legitimately saved Edmonton Oilers’ forward Matt Hendricks from a world of pain that I can’t even begin to fathom.

In the second period of the Oilers’ game against the Dallas Stars, Hendricks got in front of an Alex Goligoski slap shot that hit him in the most unfortunate of all of the unfortunate regions.

Here’s the cringe-worthy video, courtesy of SportsNet Canada.

While the video and the crowd reaction at the end gets the point across fairly well, a picture Hendricks posted of the cup after the game to Twitter really shows how much damage that little piece of plastic prevented.

That cup took a bullet for Hendricks. He already has two kids, but if he’s planning on having any more, he likely owes the possibility of doing so to that cup. In fact, I wouldn’t blame Hendricks one bit if he named that kid Bike.

So remember kids, wear your cup – your unborn children’s lives may well depend on it.

Bryan Altman is, for some reason, an unabashed fan of the Rangers, Jets and Mets. If he absolutely had to pick a basketball team it would be the Knicks, but he’d gladly trade them for just one championship for any of his other three teams.

Questions or comments? Feel free to follow Bryan on Twitter or send him an email