SUN Hockey Pool

Hale back early from road trip

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- While his Flames prepared to battle the Predators, David Hale was getting ready to undergo some medical testing in Calgary.

The 26-year-old defenceman didn't accompany the Flames to Music City, instead flying home Tuesday night.

Reached by phone yesterday afternoon, Hale said he was doing "fine" but couldn't divulge the reason he returned from the road early.

"We're just trying to figure some things out. I'll be able to tell you more in a couple of days," said Hale, who has been forced to miss chunks of playing time during much of his hockey career because of a disorder that affects the kidneys called IgA nephropathy.

Hale said he will have a "broad range of tests" done before getting back on the ice.

Neither Hale nor the team would discuss whether his absence was related to the kidney ailment, also known as Berger's disease.

"He flew back to Calgary and we won't know more until this afternoon," said Flames head coach Jim Playfair after an optional practice at the Gaylord Entertainment Center yesterday.

"Hopefully I'll have something tomorrow morning. Something came up and we just wanted him to go back and get checked out."

Many thought Hale might get into the Flames' lineup for the first time for Tuesday's 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. Hale, too, thought he might have a shot.

"It came down to the fact the guys were all playing well and they wanted to run some tests on me," he said.

Hale was diagnosed with Berger's disease in 2001. It is caused by protein deposits in the kidneys that interfere with their ability to filter bodily wastes.

Although there is no cure for the disease, proper rest and diet can help minimize its effects.

Rest can sometimes be tough to come by for a professional athlete but Hale said he hasn't had to deal with any problems for a while.

"A few times it's hindered my ability to play a full season but that was in the past," said Hale. "It's getting better."

Swelling of the hands and feet and high blood pressure are some of the symptoms of the disorder, which may be genetic.

The condition can progress over a period of 10 to 20 years and if it leads to end-stage renal disease, the patient must go on dialysis or receive a kidney transplant.

Some of the symptoms are also flu-like, so it's possible the Flames are just playing it safe with their recent acquisition.


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