Injured Winnipeg Jet Zach Redmond was back on ice and in skates on Friday — a surprise to many considering the life-threatening injury he suffered just six weeks ago.
The 24-year-old rookie skated alone but dressed in a Jets practice jersey at the MTS Iceplex. It was a scene many didn't expect for several more months — not even Redmond himself.
"It’s awesome. I didn’t expect to be back this quick," said Redmond.
Redmond was rushed to hospital in Raleigh, N.C., on Feb. 21 after falling during the team's practice ahead of a road game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
A teammate then accidentally skated over his thigh, cutting the femoral artery and vein in the back of Redmond's leg. He had been undergoing rehabilitation at his home in Traverse City, Michigan.
Redmond credits his teammates, coaches and training staff with saving his life by helping slow the bleeding before paramedics arrived. Inititally, he was told he may not be able to play hockey ever again.
"They were saying, ‘50-50 chance you’ll ever play again.’ Then, a week later, it was a year recovery and then a couple weeks later it was, ‘You know what? You’ll be ready for training camp,’" said Redmond.
"Now it’s like, I’m on the ice, so your guess is as good as mine."
Redmond showed the media a gruesome scar where his femoral artery was cut.
"I didn’t actually feel the cut. I don’t know if I was in shock or what, but the cut itself didn’t hurt," said Redmond.
"Then, seeing the blood, that initial shock was like, ‘Woah!’" said Redmond.
Teammate Anthony Peluso was credited with helping save Redmond’s life by quickly applying pressure to the wound.
"He got cut, and I saw that he looked like he was in a lot of pain, so I just quickly ran to the bench and grabbed a towel," said Peluso.
"[I] got back as fast as I could and just put my hands on it and squeezed it shut."
Peluso downplayed his role in the incident, though.
"Really the guy for credit is Zach. I mean, six weeks later and he’s skating again!" said Peluso.
The team has not said when the defenceman will be able to play again, but the team’s athletic therapist Rob Milette said Redmond’s recovery is ahead of schedule.
"Yeah, he does have some sensation in the lower leg that is affected, but all motor functions seem to be there and that’s what’s most important," said Milette.