Carl Hagelin had quite a tragic end to his season that will have unfortunate long-term effects on his life due to an eye injury he suffered at the end of a March 1 practice. The Swedish forward revealed the news to reporters at this year’s Breakdown Day.
According to Hagelin, an errant stick blade ruptured the choroid in the back of his left eye. Hagelin’s vision will never be the same.
“Right when it happened, it sounded like it might have to almost get in and remove the eye,” Hagelin said. “First week or so was definitely a frustrating week. It was tough but things have obviously gotten better since then. Now I can see a little bit with the eye. I’m in a better spot now than I was then.
“The damage of the eye was the choroid in the back of my eye got ruptured so there’s a scar tissue,” he continued. “There’s a lot of details to it that I’m not going to share everything. Basically there’s scar tissue and there’s damage to the eye that will affect my vision. It’s not going to get 100 percent. We’ll see where it ends up.”
Even after the multiple surgeries to repair his eyeHagelin remains optimistic about the future of his playing career overall.
“Status is still that the eye is healing,” Hagelin said. “I’m doing everything I can be back next year…I’m optimistic that I’m gonna come back next year. It’ll be a grind of course and I’ll do everything I can this summer to be ready for camp.”
Hagline has already started on-ice work as he targets a return to the team in the fall – the last season on his current contract.
“It feels better every day,” he said. “Still some depth perception stuff. Looking down and then looking up it’s sometimes hard to get the focus in right away. That’s still a work in progress. It’ll be a lot of eye training this summer. I’m up for the challenge.”
In the past, other NHL players have suffered similar, serious vision-impacted injuries to their eyes and continued their careers afterward. Hagelin will look to join them.
“So I played with Marc Staal in New York,” Hagelin said. “He’s been a great resource through all of this. Every time after I talk to him, it’s been great for the mental aspect of it. It’s always put me in a good mood and it’s always been positive. He said it too, it’s all about patience, it takes time. At the end of the day, you have that one good eye that’s gonna carry you.”
In his fourth season with the Caps, Hagelin had 14 points in 53 games sticking as the left-wing cog in the machine that was the team’s fourth line. The trio that included Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway regularly skated the toughest minutes in the most defensive situations. In over 340 of those minutes at five-on-five, they returned a splendid 54-percent shot attempts for percentage, 51.9-percent expected goals-for percentage, 52.5-percent scoring chance for percentage, and 56.4-percent high chance for percentage.
“It’s the most pain I’ve ever been through because the stick hit me right in the eyeball,” Hagelin said. “It wasn’t any bones around it that really took any of the impact. It was scary, those first two weeks were some of the toughest in my life, especially early on when you can’t see anything with the eye, it’s just total darkness. But now you’re over the hump and I’ve always said to myself I’ve been a positive person, an optimism person and I need to stay that way. Keep pushing for next season.”