Tuesday, April 19, 2011
JONAS HILLER'S HEAD CASE: COULD IT END HIS CAREER?
Is Jonas Hiller's career dunzo? A concerned Anaheim Ducks fan recently asked me this very question.
At first, I was like, "Nah, I'm sure he'll be good to go by next year."
Now I'm not so sure.
Today came news that Hiller, who in early February went on injured reserve with vertigo-like symptoms and since has basically been a very highly paid third-string goalie for late-season replacements Ray Emery and Dan Ellis, was sent back home to California as the Ducks prepared for Game 4 in Nashville. It was just the latest setback in what has been a - pardon the pun - dizzying season for the Swiss keeper, who started off the year so good he was named to the All Star team. Then this.
Back in March, Hiller was quoted as saying, “I still have the symptoms and I still don’t feel right. It still feels like I’ve got something slowing me down and it seems like I’m always behind the play. It doesn’t hurt or anything, but it’s definitely not a nice feeling.”
And I'm told it hasn't gotten any nicer for the 29-year-old goalie.
But just how serious is Hiller's medical situation? Getting this answer from Honda Center insiders has been like trying to get the truth out of those guys doing PR for that Japanese nuclear reactor spewing more crap into the atmosphere than Don Cherry.
In other words, impossible!
In Hiller's head case, though, there's no grand conspiracy to conceal the truth. Quite simply, Hiller's unrelenting case of vertigo is confounding doctors, whose treatment of this mysterious disorder has apparently gone something like this: Rest. Try to play. Still dizzy? Ok, rest again. And so it has gone for a long time. Poor Jonas. You really gotta feel for the guy.
Even the most cursory research into the various treatments for vertigo makes one think that doctors really don't have a clue what to do. I've read everything from acupuncture to rest to surgery to something called "vestibular rehabilitation exercises" (I'm not even going to pretend to explain what the heck this is).
Long story short: Hiller's future is as uncertain as the exact number of teeth missing at any given time from Alex Ovechkin's mouth.
(Check out even more of my goalie coverage and analysis at NHL.com throughout the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.)