How Ducks’ Cam Fowler endured surgery to reconstruct his face
It was a play Cam Fowler has probably made thousands of times. He merely stuck his hockey stick into a shooting lane in an attempt to block an opposing player’s shot from the perimeter. Ideally, the shooter wouldn’t take the shot, but if he did the puck would be deflected out of harm’s way.
A routine play proved to be anything but ordinary on the night of Nov. 12.
This time, in the third period of the Ducks’ 2-1 shootout victory over the Nashville Predators at Honda Center, the puck deflected into a very dangerous zone. Craig Smith’s shot ricocheted off Fowler’s stick blade and struck the Ducks’ defenseman in the in the face, just below his protective visor.
The impact resulted in fractured orbital, cheek and jaw bones. When the swelling subsided days later, surgery was performed and several plates and screws were inserted into Fowler’s face to mend the damage. The doctors insisted he wait three weeks before resuming any physical activity.
“Obviously, post surgery, things were a little difficult there,” Fowler said Saturday in his first public comments since his injury. “I had to wait for the irritation and swelling and stuff to go down. The last two to three weeks, I’ve started to feel close to my normal self.”
Fowler skated Saturday with the Ducks for a second consecutive day, wearing a full visor to protect his face during their morning workout before they played host to the Arizona Coyotes. He also joined the Ducks for the first three drills of Friday’s practice before heading off the ice as planned.
He’s made rapid progress, but his return to the lineup remains uncertain. He sat out Saturday for the 21st game, and it could be several more before he rejoins his teammates and plays again. The Ducks’ original estimate called for an eight-week layoff.
The worst is over, as far as Fowler is concerned.
“I think the days leading up to surgery things started to set it, kind of what happened and the severity of what happened,” he said of the roughest days. “I had a lot of great people looking after me, the surgeon and Dr. Grant. Everyone made the whole process as easy as possible.”
Fowler referred to Dr. Michael Sundine, an Orange County-based plastic surgeon, and Dr. Bao-Thy Grant, the Ducks’ oral surgeon. Together they inserted “three or four plates and 10 screws,” during a complex three-hour procedure, according to Fowler.
“At the end of the day, things could have been worse,” Fowler added. “It could have affected my eye. It could have affected my vision long-term. In that way I feel very lucky. I’ll make a full recovery, but a lot of that is thanks to the people who took care of me.”