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NHL

Eye injury leaves questions for Coyotes' Wilson

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 25, 2002

PHOENIX -- When the Coyotes' Landon Wilson looks out of his left eye, he still can't see much of anything.

It has been 12 days since teammate Shane Doan's deflected slap shot struck Wilson directly in the left eye, tearing his retina. He had two surgeries, one exploratory and one major, within 24 hours and spent seven days in a hospital. It will be weeks before the swelling goes down, before doctors have a better idea of just how much sight will return.

"Right now, it's all blurry. I can only see shadows," Wilson said. "If I cover my (right) eye and someone is standing in front of me, I know someone is there. But I can't tell who it is."

He knows his season likely is finished. Any talk of his hockey future is on the back burner. All his focus is on regaining the focus, sight and strength in what was a 20/20 left eye until the incident in the second period of a Dec.13 loss to Washington.

Wilson never lost consciousness and remembers everything. He saw the shot, saw the deflection off opponent Steve Konowlachuk's skate and tried to get out of the way. But there was no time.

"I remembered seeing it come up and hitting me and I remember going down," Wilson said. "I tried to stand, but I stumbled back down. Everything was pitch black, so I told myself to stay down and wait until help came."

Wilson hasn't seen out of the eye since. He was in the hospital until dawn the next morning, but there was too much blood behind the eye to get a clear picture of the damage. By the next afternoon, specialists knew they had to operate right away.

Wilson spent the next week alone. Steroids taken to reduce swelling affected his immune system, making visitors impossible.

"I was by myself and in the dark," Wilson said. "It was a tough week. But I got so many phone calls from friends, teammates, management, people I haven't talked to for years. They all helped keep my spirits up. I want to thank everyone."

The irony is that Wilson was a few days from getting a tinted visor, one that doctors agree would have saved his eye from serious injury. He took a high stick to the same eye on the first shift of a Dec.3 game against the Sharks. He called it "the scariest moment of my career" and vowed to wear a visor from that day forward.

But after two games, Wilson experienced headaches and nausea from the glare off the ice and took off the visor. He scored the game's final goal, his 100th NHL point, against Atlanta on Dec.11 but said he would wear the tinted visor as soon as he could get one. It didn't arrive in time.

STARS: Center Mike Modano, who missed three games after sustaining a concussion on a hit by the Flyers' Jeremy Roenick, will play Thursday against the Predators.

The team said the 32-year-old Modano, who leads the team in scoring with 13 goals and 22 assists, was cleared by doctors six days after he suffered his fourth concussion in nine seasons.

Roenick was suspended two for hitting Modano from behind.

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