The unthinkable happened on Thursday night. Not only did the Canucks and the Nashville Predators combine for eleven points, but Mason Raymond was denied the right to play because of a paperwork error.
Raymond was injured in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals in an awkward hit by Johnny Boychuk of the Boston Bruins. There was no penalty on the play and the hit was controversial, with Canucks GM Mike Gillis speaking out about the lack of discipline on Boychuk. Because of the hit, Raymond suffered a fractured spine and damaged nerves and tissues. With such a serious injury, nobody was sure if he would ever play hockey again.
“Of course, it was scary,” Raymond told the Vancouver Sun. “My life, your hockey life, flashes before your eyes. I’m lucky enough to be able to stand here now and get back on the ice…You go from lying in bed for a week, barely moving, to being in a brace for a few months. It’s been a long process. I’m blessed to be able to be back here…You don’t really realize, I think, what you use every day – the use of your hands, your legs, until something like that happens maybe.”
Now the pain (at least the physical pain) is gone, and Raymond is ready to get into a game. He has been cleared for workouts and has been practicing with the team for a while but is no doubt impatient to start playing again.
The big night was supposed to be on Thursday in the Canucks’ game against the Predators – the franchise announced his return on Wednesday, the media wrote multiple features on how Raymond’s 5 ½ painful months are over, but it was not to be.
The NHL requires that teams send paperwork by 5 p.m. Eastern time on game days in order to change their rosters. Teams on the West Coast like the Canucks have fallen at a disadvantage, as they have to finalize their rosters three hours earlier than teams in the East.
“It was an oversight,” Laurence Gilman, assistant general manager for the Canucks told the Vancouver Sun. “We thought the paperwork had been filed but it hadn’t, and by the time we realized it it was five minutes too late. We’re not happy about it.”
These mistakes do not happen often in the Canucks’ organization but there has been disappointment among fans and the Canucks franchise in regards to Raymond’s return. He is now scheduled to play on Sunday against the Calgary Flames, a team which he is known for scoring many goals against. He recorded his first NHL hat trick in a 5-1 win against the Flames on December 27, 2009.
“Once I get into a game, I think I’ll feel more comfortable. Is it going to take some time to get into game shape and game mode? Yeah. But I’m very pleased with the process,” Raymond told the Province.
Raymond’s return could be subtle or it could mind-blowing like Sidney Crosby’s. But no matter what happens on Sunday, there is no doubt that Raymond will feel like he has accomplished something – it will be one more step towards full recovery, mentally more than physically, and one more step towards victory and success.