Salters sidelined by concussion

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

GUELPH -- The last thing Leigh Salters wanted to do was wear a suit when the London Knights rolled into town to take on his Guelph Storm last night.

But the big rookie forward from London found out he suffered a concussion after a third-period fight with Sting tough guy Brandon Mashinter Saturday night in Sarnia and was forced to the injured list for the nationally televised tilt against his hometown team.

"I really want to be out there (against the Knights)," the 16-year-old said. "It's a precautionary thing but with concussions, you never know when you can get back. I hope I'm able to play when we go back to London (this Sunday)."

If anyone knows about being careful with his body and patiently monitoring his health, it's the six-foot-three, 200-pound Salters. The former London Junior Knights midget player has Type 1 diabetes and was diagnosed at age six, something that didn't deter Storm GM and head coach Dave Barr from picking him in the second round (40th overall) of last summer's OHL draft.

Guelph used a draft pick traded to them by the Knights last year to pluck a quality player right from their own backyard.

"Diabetes hasn't been an issue because Leigh knows what he has to do and we make sure if he needs some food that it's available to him," Guelph head coach Dave Barr said. "There's only been a couple of times, never in a game, but in practices when he's really expending a lot of energy and he has told me he had to go off the ice for a bit and then he's back out there."

Salters has to check his blood sugar levels constantly and get an insulin injection four times a day. His billet packs him a big box lunch to bring to the rink and he always has a Gatorade with him on the bench during games.

"It's been an education because I had to learn how to deal with it before I was ready to leave home," Salters said. "Every three months, I go back to (London's) Victoria Hospital to get an update on my readings and see how everything is going. The doctors have been great and my high school (Mother Teresa) at home has always been great."

Salters knows he can succeed in hockey despite diabetes because Philadelphia Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke had a long NHL career. He has seen other examples in sports like baseball, where former Detroit Tigers pitcher Jason Johnson worked on the mound with a device on his belt that supplied insulin.

"It's been a great first year here. I have no complaints," Salters said. "I just try to get out there and work as hard as I can. I know my role because I'm an underage guy and have to earn my ice time. We're doing a lot better than people expected and we want to keep it going."

Salters has one goal in 37 OHL games this season and scored it against London's Adam Dennis at the John Labatt Centre on Dec. 11 in a 3-2 Knights' shootout win.

"That was a thrill to score it against him in my hometown with a lot of people I knew there," he said. "I hate not being able to get out there and play against them."

He'll get one more chance this regular season this weekend to face the Knights.


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