By Alexander Monaghan
Jeff Hackett unfortunately retired following his bout with vertigo. Twenty-six games into a guaranteed, two-year starting goalie gig and Hackett needed to hang up his skates due to this certain type of dizziness.
Take into account that after 14 years of mediocre, below .500 teams, Hackett could not grit through one of his better seasons with a playoff team. Playing 500 games, only 27 as a member of the Flyers, provided a sad legacy — one that will only be remembered when this freak injury returns to the forefront.
Vertigo, by definition, occurs when there is conflict between the signals sent to the brain by various balance- and position-sensing systems of the body. In other words, a person suffering from vertigo would often lose their balance or believe they are falling while standing perfectly upright.
This particular affliction could happen a few ways. From WebMD:
- Inner ear disorders, such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV),Ménière’s disease, vestibular neuritis, or labyrinthitis.
- Injury to the ear or head.
- Migraine headaches, which are painful, debilitating headaches that often occur with vertigo, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, noise, and smell.
- Decreased blood flow through the arteries that supply blood to the base of the brain (vertebrobasilar insufficiency).
So when Jonas Hiller announced to The OC Register today he would be ready for training camp following a bout with vertigo, I may remain a bit less-than-optimistic.
We know Hiller was originally injured during last season’s All-Star Game in which he took two shots off-the-mask. From there he went on to play only 11:37 for the rest of the season, while on-pace to lead the League in TOI, shots faced and saves. With a 2.56 GAA and .924 SV% he helped lead the Anaheim Ducks to a playoff seed, even if they did require heroics from Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Ray Emery and even Dan Ellis to accomplish such a feat.
Playing a position as physically taxing as goaltender could be dangerous for the weakened Hiller. Despite claims of facing shots from professional players the past two weeks, there remains less physical evidence that support that Hiller can play the likely-required 60-plus games. Keeping Ellis on the roster may be an increasingly prudent move by GM Bob Murray as the veteran backup showed the capability of playing 30-40 games if called upon. Not recommended, but Ellis is certainly capable.
Last season Hiller was selected around the 8th round, but taking him this early would not be recommended without an incredibly strong pre-season. Considering last year a goalie like Carey Price was available in that general area of the draft, there likely will be much safer options.
Choose your goalie wisely come draft time, being able to stand and keep balance while on ice might not be as simple as previously reported.