No, I’m not speaking of Lightning defender Victor Hedman’s return to the team after a quarter finals loss in the IIHF World Championship. The Bolts went all of the 2011-2012 season without the other big Swede Mattias Ohlund. Multiple knee operations, including major surgery on his left knee in February of this year, kept Ohlund from taking a single stride onto the ice. The 35 year old defenseman has been dealing with a lot of pain.
According to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, written by Damian Cristodero, Ohlund underwent “arthroscopic surgery on both knees last summer.” This operation was to remove what the team identified as “loose bodies”. Such an operation is not uncommon for athletes, but is usually not done on both knees, as was done with Ohlund. This surgery kept Ohlund out for the beginning of the 2011-2012 campaign. It was stated that he had a chance of returning to the ice midway through the season, but more knee problems arose. These new problems led to a major surgery in February.
Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic inserted a titanium plate on Ohlund’s femur where the kneecap connects. The cartilage that usually protects the bones had eroded away in Ohlund’s joint, causing the bones to rub together.
It is also worth noting that most athletes do not typically return to high intensity activities after a surgery like this one. Cristodero said in his article that Ohlund “did not do much the first six weeks after surgery”. Letha Griffin, an orthopedic surgeon at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, said this about Ohlund and his surgery:
With replacements of the surfaces of the knee, you usually would not see an individual going back to high-risk, high-contact sports of a professional nature. Certainly, hockey is one of the worst for falling and injuring body limbs, and it’s a very intense sport for the patellofemoral joint because it’s all done off a bent knee.
It does seem as though all of the odds are going against Mattias Ohlund. However, this is not something that the big Swede seems intimidated by at all. He’s stated that, although he’s probably thought about retiring multiple times, he wants a chance to play once again.
I have to, for my own peace of mind, give myself a chance to do this. I’d like to play again. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I hope so.
Ohlund’s determination to return to playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning is not in question. The main factor in his return, or lack there of, is the health of Ohlund’s knee. Major surgery’s are often turning points in the career of an athlete. They can either jump start a career or end it a few years short. With Ohlund, the likelihood leans towards the latter, but the Swede is keeping his head up.
When you’re younger, I might have looked at guys my age and in my situation and said, ‘Why does he not just quit?’ But when you get older, you realize this is truly a blessing to be in this game. … I want to give myself another chance to play, and I’m hoping that’s going to happen, but who knows?
Tampa Bay Lightning’s Mattias Ohlund rehabs hoping to play again after major knee surgery – Damian Cristodero (May 14th, 2012)
Mattias Ohlund Injury: Tampa Bay Lightning Defenseman’s Career In Doubt After Knee Surgery – Ryan Van Bibber (May 14th, 2012)
Follow Damian Cristodero on Twitter: @LightningTimes
Follow Ryan Van Bibber on Twitter: @justRBB