Senators prospect Patrick Wiercioch recalls life-threatening injury

Senators defenceman Patrick Wiercioch. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency file photo)

Senators defenceman Patrick Wiercioch. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency file photo)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:18 AM ET

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - It was an injury that threatened Patrick Wiercioch’s life and, most certainly, his career.

That’s why he rarely likes to look back.

“Seldom,” said the Senators defenceman when asked during a break at Binghamton training camp if he talks about taking a puck in the throat off the stick of Norfolk Admirals defenceman Radko Gudas on Dec. 9 of last season.

Doctors wondered if Wiercioch would recover fully, but here he is at camp and he opened up about it on the weekend.

“It’s not something that I look back and want to say that’s my defining moment in life,” Wiercioch said. “I’m thankful for those who were around me, their thoughts and prayers. All the family kind of reached out and just hoped I was doing well.

“It was tough on my family. It was tough on my fiancee because of what the entire experience could have been. There were some moments where the doctors weren’t sure. It worked out extremely well.”

It couldn’t have worked out better, but it was scary. Wiercioch broke a bone in the back of his neck that caused complications with his ability to talk.

“People say it’s a six-to-eight-week healing process, but the after-effects could be six-to-eight months and could be up to a year,” said Wiercioch.

“For me, first and foremost, it was vocally that I was worried about. If something wasn’t right there or something was hindered where it could be exposed to a pretty significant blow, I didn’t want to go through the risk of not being able to talk one day to my kids. That was the defining line where was it worth it or was it better to stay off (the ice).”

But Wiercioch returned to playing shape and was back on the ice with the Baby Sens on Jan. 27.

“I pushed myself to get back,” said Wiercioch. “Mentally, there’s always that block and anytime you fall from the tree, you’re going to be thinking twice looking down.

“The sooner I pushed myself to get back, it kind of pushed that (incident) behind me quick. I honestly wasn’t anywhere near 100% at the end of (last) year. I’d be a fool to say to that I was. I was trying to get through the season, each day and each practice, without thinking about it or worrying about where I was with my health. It was unfortunate the summer was so long, but it could have been a blessing in disguise that I got some time to let it heal and move forward.”

Almost fully recovered, he spent the summer in Ottawa working with close friend Kyle Turris on getting stronger and ready to battle for a spot in camp. Since the CBA isn’t settled, Wiercioch won’t get that chance, but he’ll be ready if there is an NHL season.

He’s stronger at 210 pounds and Senators GM Bryan Murray is impressed by Wiercioch’s commitment.

“He looks like a really good prospect. He looks bigger and stronger,” said Murray.

“I like what he is. I like his size. I know he’s an NHL prospect. I know if he can’t play here right away, he’ll play here in the near future. He’s one of those guys. He wasn’t happy. Now, he understands, that it takes time for a defenceman.”

Wiercioch is hopeful there are better days ahead.

Twitter: ottsungarrioch


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