Three days after Montreal Canadiens prospect Blake Geoffrion underwent emergency surgery for a skull fracture, he's able to walk and text. He's out of intensive care, but there's no indication how long he'll be hospitalized -- or whether he'll be able to resume his career.
Blake's father Danny Geoffrion told The Tennessean, "We're lucky that he's alive."
Blake, a fourth-generation NHL player who grew up in Brentwood, Tenn., was drafted by the Nashville Predators before being traded to Montreal last spring. He was hit hard while playing for the Habs' top farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs, by Syracuse defenseman Jean-Philippe Cote in an American Hockey League game Friday night. The hit sent Blake soaring off the ice; when he landed, his father said, the bone two inches above Blake's left ear hit Cote's skate, fracturing his skull.
"He's doing OK, he's a little raspy, not taking any calls or anything like that because of the tube that they had to insert in his throat made everything raw. But he's in good spirits and tells everybody thank you for all the emails, tweets and texts."
-- Danny Geoffrion on his son Blake
"They removed the piece of his skull that was about the size of a silver dollar," Danny Geoffrion, a former NHL forward, told the newspaper by phone Monday morning. "They had to replace that with titanium and metal mesh. And that's what the plate consists of, with the screws and all that, so he now has that in his head. It was unreal."
The Geoffrions are a hockey family that has seen its share of traumatic injuries. Blake's great-grandfather, Howie Morenz, and his grandfather, Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion are Canadiens' legends and Hockey Hall of Famers. Morenz died in 1937 after surgical complications from a severely broken leg sustained in a game at the Forum. Bernie suffered a ruptured bowel during a Canadiens' practice in 1958 and needed emergency surgery to save his life.
Blake was able to skate off the ice under his own power, his head bleeding, and was taken to the hospital. A half-hour later, Danny Geoffrion was asked to give consent for surgery to be performed on Blake, who had gone into convulsions.
"Parts of the skull had gotten into the brain," he told the paper. "So they cleaned all that out, and took care of the little bleeding he did have, which was another major thing. He was very, very lucky."
Danny Geoffrion said Blake was removed from intensive care Sunday and is able to walk, but added that recovery is going to be a day-by-day process.
"He's doing OK, he's a little raspy, not taking any calls or anything like that because of the tube that they had to insert in his throat made everything raw," he said. "But he's in good spirits and tells everybody thank you for all the emails, tweets and texts."
Blake sent out a message on Twitter: "Thank you to everyone for their kind words and support. Today has been a little tougher but continuing to get better."
Blake Geoffrion's hockey future is unclear, though the Canadiens said in a press release he is expected to make a full recovery.
"You ask me, 'Is he going to be raring to go in a year from now?' Yeah, absolutely, probably if everything goes well, probably in eight months to 10 months, I feel like he'll be a race horse ready to hit it again," Danny Geoffrion said. "But now you can't just look at that aspect of it. You have to look at quality of life when he's 50 years old."