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Cunningham Skates, Drops Puck at Gila River Arena

Craig Cunningham was the guest of honor at the season finale

by Jerry Brown @FrozenRubber / Correspondent

Cunningham Honored at Finale

Craig Cunningham Honored at Fan Appreciation Night

On Fan Appreciation Night, the Coyotes honored Tucson Captain Craig Cunningham, who has made a miraculous recovery from a medical emergency

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GLENDALE -- Eight days ago, Craig Cunningham made his return to the ice with the help of his Tucson Roadrunners teammates. It was one more chance to get another part of himself back.

Saturday morning, he was on the ice for the fourth time. And he was doing crossover strides.

"I'm not as fast as I used to be," he said. "It's kind of hard to skate without an ankle but they have made the correct adjustments. Hockey has been my whole life since I was three years old, and to say that I miss it every single minute of every day is an understatement."

Cunningham collapsed on the ice before a Roadrunners game on Nov. 19 due to acute cardiac arrest caused by a condition known as ventricular fibrillation. Emergency personnel kept him alive with 85 minutes of CPR. Even after surgery, Cunningham had to have part of his left leg amputated on Christmas Eve.

But tell him he can't do something and watch him go.

Cunningham was back at Gila River Arena Saturday, where he dropped the ceremonial first puck at the Coyotes game against the Minnesota Wild, receiving a standing ovation from fans in attendance.

Video: Craig Cunningham Honored at Fan Appreciation Night

"It's been a long journey," Cunningham said. "I hoped I would be walking into this building with my (hockey) bag. But I realize that I'm lucky to be here. Between Tucson and Phoenix fans and the whole hockey world, the support I've gotten has just been incredible.

"It's been an indescribable couple of months. I'm not going to sugarcoat it, it's been tough. I used to think the season got long and was a bit of a grind but it can't compare to everyday life. It feels so long ago that I was in a hospital bed with 10 different IVs in me trying to reach for my phone and not being able to," Cunnigham said.

Doctors said his recovery is at a great pace and is coming along smoothly. He was 160 pounds when he left the hospital and he is now at 185. He's back in the gym and now back on the ice.

"(Doctors) still don't know what caused the accident or what happened," he said. "I've probably had about a thousand blood tests."

Now after two months in the hospital, a stint in a rehab facility and weeks in outpatient rehab, his independence is returning and he's hoping a job with the organization is on the horizon.

"I'd like to start (scouting) back in Calgary," Cunningham said. "I know the area and I'd like to help the organization that has been so incredible to me."


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