IN hockey, there are lots of muscles strains and sprains. Even some torn ligaments. But having a skate cut right to the bone of a player's upper thigh doesn't happen very often.
That's why when Zach Redmond stepped on to the ice on Friday, his doctors considered it a medical marvel.
"I didn't expect to be back this quick but as the recovery goes on I get better and better news," said Redmond, who skated at the MTS Iceplex with teammates Jim Slater and Anthony Peluso on Friday morning. "They keeping pushing the deadline up. It's awesome. It felt great to be out there."
The fact Redmond is back on the ice is one incredible step and Winnipeg Jets head physician Dr. Peter MacDonald says it's "highly probable," Redmond will be in training camp this fall if not back with the team sooner.
"It's nothing short of a miracle considering what's he's been through," said MacDonald, who put Redmond through a series of tests on Thursday. "We're all aware of what happened. Considering the magnitude of the injury and the insult, not only to the leg but the whole body, it's quite miraculous."
Redmond had his femoral artery lacerated by teammate Antti Miettinen's skate during a practice in Raleigh, N.C., on Feb. 21.
"It was a scary injury but they stitched the artery right away and that's not even a concern anymore. It's as good as it's ever going to be. Now it's just a matter of getting stronger."
MacDonald, head of orthopedics for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, credits excellent medical treatment from the Jets training staff and doctors in North Carolina for Redmond's success.
"The skate basically cut through his upper thigh and went right to the bone. That's a dirty skate and the risk of infection is high. They did a good job keeping the wound clean," said MacDonald. "Zach didn't suffer any nerve damage, which is also amazing."
Jets head physical therapist Rob Milette was thrilled to see Redmond back on the ice.
"He's got full range of motion in his foot," said Milette. "He's got some sensation in his foot that he'll have to deal with but the range of motion is there and that's the key."
The injury was life-threatening and at the time of the incident, Redmond's return to pro hockey was at best a 50-50 prospect.
"Honestly we thought it was 50-50 that he'd ever play again," said MacDonald. "To have that major insult to the body, he's lucky to be alive first of all. You don't even think about playing again at first. He's amazed us all. It's very high probability that he'll be in training camp. He's going to start skating now. We haven't ruled out, if the Jets were to make the playoffs and go far, we haven't even ruled out him playing this year."
MacDonald is flabbergasted by Redmond's recovery.
"We just did strength tests on him and the leg is performing at 75 per cent, which is incredible considering all the muscles in his inner thigh were severed. They seem to be healed up find and there are no residual problems that we can detect. He's been working real hard back in Michigan. He's had a positive attitude the whole time and he's a great kid. It's really just incredible."
MacDonald said he sees no impediments to Redmond's return.
"He's out of the woods. It's now just a matter of getting his strength back," said MacDonald. "From what we've seen so far, it's very encouraging."