Flames prospect battles back after surviving blood clot scare

mattpelech1.jpgIt’s not always injuries that occur on the ice that can threaten a player’s career. Sometimes it’s something you don’t realize is there until it’s sometimes too late. Take the case of Calgary Flames. Two years ago, Flames prospect Mickey Renaud died because of a genetic heart condition. This year, prospect Matt Pelech found his road to the NHL slowed down not by an on-ice injury but by a blood clot that put him in the hospital. Vicki Hall of The Calgary Herald outlines his scary story and his road to recovery and rejoining the Flames.

They caught it on a Saturday night in January at the Abbotsford Sport and Entertainment Centre. Pelech was peeling off his equipment in the dressing room after a 4-2 win over Texas.

His defensive partner Keith Aulie gasped.

“Pelly, what’s going on with your arm?”

Pelech looked down. His arm was puffy, swollen and dark blue from the shoulder all the way down to his hand.

Looking back, Pelech remembers feeling his arm go numb in the second period. But he simply figured the funny, tingly sensation came from a pinched nerve or a minor burner.

Hockey players push through pain and discomfort on a nightly basis. This seemed minor. The visual evidence proved otherwise.

Dr. Reg Peters, an emergency room physician, was working the game that night. He took one look at the blue appendage and ordered Pelech to go straight to the Abbotsford hospital.

From there, the medical staff shipped Pelech to a hospital in New Westminster for more tests and a procedure called an AngioJet.

In simple terms, the doctors inserted a sheath into his bicep and sprayed clot-busting material up near the shoulder at the intersection with the first rib.

Didn’t work.

So he hit the road via ambulance again, and headed northbound to Vancouver General Hospital.

Pelech survived the scary ordeal but saw his season get interrupted last year to get fully treated and begin the road to rehabilitation. Hall’s story goes into vastly more detail about what went into helping relieve the blood clot that produced the scary blue arm situation for Pelech. I can’t suggest strongly enough reading the rest of it. For the Flames, this story coming away with a happy ending is a relieving change of pace after what happened to Mickey Renaud.

For Pelech this year, he’s back with the Flames on a one-year, two-way contract which is a great thing. Having to fight his way through to crack the Flames top six on defense might be asking a lot, however. The Flames are set to have Jay Bouwmeester, Cory Sarich, Robyn Regher, Ian White, Steve Staios, Mark Giordano, Adam Pardy and Staffan Kronwall on defense. Ouch. If/when Pelech doesn’t make the Flames, if they want to send him back to the AHL and Abbotsford, they’ll have to put him through waivers to do it. One way or another, Matt Pelech will get to prove his worth on the ice this year instead of in a hospital room and that’s great to see.

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    Seguin resumes skating in Dallas, Ruff notes ‘they have flights into St. Louis every day’

    Dallas Stars' Tyler Seguin makes a pass during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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    The latest on Tyler Seguin (and fellow injured Stars forward Patrick Eaves), per the Dallas Morning-News:

    Q: On the statuses of Patrick Eaves (leg) and Tyler Seguin (Achilles)

    Lindy Ruff: “Both skated today, both progressing.”

    Q: On if Seguin and Eaves will travel with the team to St. Louis for Game 3

    LR: “No, but they have flights into St. Louis every day.”

    Seguin, as you’ve probably heard, hasn’t played since a Game 2 win over Minnesota in the opening round.

    That was on Apr. 16.

    Dallas’ All-Star center returned from a partially lacerated Achilles to participate in said Game 2, a nasty injury that cost him the final 10 games of the regular season and the series opener against the Wild.

    The Stars say this latest injury has nothing to do with the previous one, but reporters haven’t been privy to much information beyond that.

    In speaking last week, Ruff didn’t even want to put a timetable on Seguin’s return, for fear of what an inaccurate timetable might cause.

    “I really can’t,” Ruff said. “I don’t even have a guesstimate on it. I don’t even think it’d be fair. If I guessed and if I’m off, everybody else will be wondering why did he guess that?”

    GM Jim Nill did say the club expected Seguin to miss the first two games of the Blues series and, as of last Thursday, confirmed Seguin wasn’t skating.

    “He’s day-to-day,” Nill explained. “Once he gets on the ice, it’s probably four to five days from there.”

    This series, currently tied 1-1, will resume on Tuesday from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

    Trotz ‘disappointed’ in length of Orpik suspension, suggests NHL favors Penguins

    Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz, top center, shouts to his players during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils Friday, March 25, 2016, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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    Barry Trotz thinks the NHL is biased in favor of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    That’s the only way to take Trotz’s remarks following Brooks Orpik‘s three-game suspension for hitting Olli Maatta late.

    “I’m disappointed, but I’m not surprised based on who we’re playing and all that,” the Capitals’ head coach told reporters today.

    When asked what he meant by that, Trotz replied, “Take it for whatever you want.”

    Orpik, meanwhile, called the NHL’s decision “fair.”

    “Bad hit,” he said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Split-second decision you make. You’ve just got to live with it.”

    But let’s get back to Trotz, because he was also upset that Orpik was labelled a “predator” by NBC Sports commentator Mike Milbury.

    “A predator is a guy that’s trying to hurt people,” said Trotz, per the Washington Post. “And I think it’d be very unfair to paint him that way. If you know anything about Brooks, he’s one of the classiest guys, one of the true pros in the league. And so I just think that’s really unfair.”

    Regardless of Orpik’s intentions, Maatta will miss tonight’s Game 3 with an “upper-body injury.” The speculation is that the young defenseman suffered a concussion on the hit. The Penguins are hopeful that he’ll be able to play again in this series, but aren’t certain.

    As for Orpik’s spot in the lineup, that’s expected to be filled by Dmitri Orlov, a healthy scratch in Game 2.

     

    Leafs sign Russian d-man Zaitsev

    BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 26: Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev #2 of Russia dumps the puck in as forward Cody Eakin #21 of Canada tries to block the puck during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship Group B game between Canada and Russia on December 26, 2010 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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    The Toronto Maple Leafs made it official today, announcing the signing of Russian defenseman Nikita Zaitsev to a one-year entry-level contract.

    It was reported all the way back in January that the Leafs were expected to do just that.

    From the press release:

    Zaitsev, 24, collected 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) and 20 penalty minutes in 46 regular season games with CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) this past season, before adding 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 20 playoff games. His 13 points in the post-season were tied for the most among KHL defenceman. Zaitsev was twice selected to play in the KHL All-Star Game and was named a KHL first-team all-star in 2014-15.

    Safe to say that the undrafted Zaitsev will have a good chance to crack a Leafs defense that’s short on overall quality, and especially short on right shots.

    Losing Granato might not be only change behind Detroit’s bench

    Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, left, and assistant Tony Granato watch their preseason NHL hockey game against the Blackhawks during the third period at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
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    Jeff Blashill will definitely have one new assistant in Detroit next season, with Tony Granato having accepted the head coaching gig at Wisconsin.

    But could other changes be coming as well?

    From MLive:

    Pat Ferschweiler, in his first season as an NHL assistant coach, was in charge of a power play that struggled much of the season, despite finishing 13th in the league following a late surge. It was ineffective in the playoffs (1 for 25).

    Blashill didn’t rule out changing roles on the staff.

    “We’ll look at everything,” Blashill said. “How I can be better is partly how we all can be better as a staff, so we’ll look at everything in totality and how we can make ourselves more productive. Our goal is to try to get better and if that’s done through our staff then we’ll certainly address that.”

    Given Blashill’s the NHL’s second-youngest coach (at 42) and Ferschweiler doesn’t have a ton of experience, the Granato loss becomes even more profound. He was the only guy on staff with history as a player and former NHL head coach.

    As such, all signs point to Detroit going for a veteran hockey guy behind the bench (or hockey guys, plural, if Ferschweiler isn’t retained.)

    But who?

    Adam Oates would be an interesting name, if Oates hadn’t recently told Sportsnet “I presume my coaching days are over,” and “I’m not planning on coaching anymore.” Remember, Oates spent some time at Detroit practices this year as a power-play/skills coach (read more from the Free Press here) and is familiar with the organization, having broken in with the Red Wings during the mid-80s.

    What’s more, Oates has experience as a head coach on two NHL benches — Washington and New Jersey — and also served as an assistant in Tampa Bay.