Joni Pitkanen suffered what appeared to be a career ending injury on a race to the puck on an icing call on April 2nd, 2013 against the Washington Capitals. After a report from The Hockey News, it seems like it is over for the 30-year-old Finish defenseman.
Ken Cambell from The Hockey News talked to Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford, and he did not sound confident in Pitkanen’s recovery from his broken left calcaneus (heel) bone.
“He’s not making a lot of progress, so he’ll have to make a decision in the off-season (whether to continue his playing career)… The doctor said it wasn’t like any sports injury. It was like a person who had been involved in a car accident.”
This is very unfortunate. This is a 30-year-old defenseman that would’ve likely had at least 6 years left in his career. It is now cut short due to an avoidable injury.
It is avoidable, because the NHL had many opportunities to implement the hybrid icing, but they did not before Pitkanen’s injury. If there is anything good about this, it’s that no one will ever have to go through what Joni Pitkanen went through following a simple icing call.
Joni Pitkanen’s ability to move the puck and create offensive chances for his team was elite. Not many people have the natural ability to do the things Joni Pitkanen did throughout his career.
It’s sad that Pitkanen’s final moments on the ice as an NHL player was on a stretcher, but the applause for Joni Pitkanen in that moment at the PNC Arena as he was carted off shows how people feel about Joni Pitkanen. The Canes fans appreciate and respect Joni Pitkanen.
Joni Pitkanen is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so it is highly unlikely the Carolina Hurricanes will re-sign him.
With hybrid icing, we hope to never see this kind of thing ever again. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Joni Pitkanen.