A gruesome skate cut ended Eric Wellwood’s playing career, but kickstarted another one.
On Thursday, the former Philadelphia forward announced his retirement at age 24, but also announced he’d be joining the coaching staff of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals.
Here’s more, from the Windsor Star:
“I knew for a while I wasn’t going to play,” said Wellwood, who was introduced Thursday at the [Oshawa] team banquet. “I didn’t tell anybody because I didn’t want to deal with it. I knew a long time ago I was done playing, I just didn’t know what I was going to do after the fact.”
A two-time Memorial Cup champion, Wellwood was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers and appeared in 31 regular-season games and 11 playoff games with the club over three seasons.
When he made the decision to not continue playing, the Flyers offered him a position in the organization.
“I had a job offer with the Flyers before D.J. [Smith, Oshawa’s head coach] talked to me,” Wellwood said. “I didn’t take it because I didn’t want to make a decision so early and it worked out great.
“It was a player development and assistant coach job with the [AHL] Phantoms, but it wasn’t on the bench and the one thing I wanted to do is be behind the bench.”
In April 2013, Wellwood suffered a severe skate laceration to his ankle during an AHL game, one that sliced tendons and cut an artery in his calf, resulting in a “skate filled with blood.” He underwent two surgeries to try and repair his Achilles tendon — which was 70 percent severed — and three other tendons that were “completely severed,” per the Philadelphia Daily News.
The injury was supposed to sideline Wellwood for nine months, but the damage proved too severe and ended his playing career.
“It never fully recovered,” he told the Star. “I’m happy where it’s at, but I’m not able to perform at the level of a pro athlete. I can go hard one day, but not the next. I spoke to the surgeon and he said if kept pushing, I was going to hurt the outside tendons. You have to keep the good tendons.”