Scatchard's just happy to be back

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

NASHVILLE — His professional career was already wobbling on the tracks when a hit completely derailed it.

Dave Scatchard was fading from 20-goal scorer to roleplayer as his NHL tour took him through Boston in a cameo with the Bruins following the lockout, to relative anonymity in the desert with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Then the check Sergei Gonchar delivered put him completely out of commission during the 2006-07 season.

"He hit me just kind of awkwardly from behind. I'd been hit a lot harder than that before, but instantly I knew something was wrong," Scatchard recalled Monday. "I just couldn't stand up straight. I had vomiting and dizziness for a long time.

"When that went away, it was just a feeling of not being quite right for a year and change."

Lasting just 11 games in a comeback attempt in the AHL in 2007-08, Scatchard was convinced his hockey days were done.

"I didn't have any strength or balance. I knew something wasn't quite right," he said. "As far as I knew, that might be the end of the road."

Raising his young family in Scottsdale, Scatchard's job became one big attempt at feeling healthy again.

"I've probably spent sixty- or seventy-thousand dollars in medical treatment to try to help myself," he said. "I saw dozens of doctors."

It wasn't until this past April the 33-year-old from Hinton finally found relief.

He walked into the office of an unorthodox German doctor who instantly recognized something wrong with Scatchard's jaw.

Among other alignment inconsistencies that took multiple treatments — and reconstruction of his back teeth — to correct, his jaw was partially dislocated.

"That was creating a lot of concussion-like symptoms," Scatchard said. "Once we eliminated the alignment issues with my jaw, it pretty much went away almost overnight. It was amazing. I couldn't believe how much different I felt in the gym or even just walking around or eating and sleeping. Everything from my digestion to everyday life seemed to just kind of get back in synch.

"I went from feeling like something was seriously wrong to feeling completely normal within a 48-hour period once we got everything set properly.

"I feel like a new man."

With a new lease on life, he began training again in Vancouver. With nothing but support from his wife, he worked hard all summer in an attempt to rekindle his career.

Ultimately, he landed with the Nashville Predators. But the comeback started with the Vancouver Canucks — the team that originally drafted him in the second round in 1994.

Looking for a tryout, Scatchard didn't even tell his agent about his intention to return, instead making a few calls of his own to general managers around the league.

The Canucks got wind of it and invited him to training camp. Things didn't work out there, but GM Mike Gillis sent a fax to every team in the league on Scatchard's behalf stating the centre was healthy and could help any team in need of a veteran.

"It was a really kind gesture and I owe him a lot for that," said Scatchard, who signed a one-year deal with Preds just after the season began and had suited up for 11 games prior to Monday's contest against the Flames. "I really had no idea what was going to happen.

"It's just a blessing that I've gotten to be back in this league."


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