VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Vancouver Canucks center Manny Malhotra thanked the surgeons who saved his vision and said he is optimistic about his recovery from a left eye injury that has required two operations.
Malhotra, who hasn't spoken publicly since a deflected puck hit him in the eye during a March 16 game against Colorado, ending his season, released a statement on Wednesday through the team.
"I will forever be grateful to the incredible group of surgeons both in Vancouver and New York who performed two successful surgeries, to restore the vision in my eye," Malhotra said. "Although there is a lot of recovery and healing to take place, I am very optimistic for a good outcome."
The 30-year-old Malhotra also thanked his family, including wife Joann, who is the sister of NBA star Steve Nash, his agent, teammates, coaches, and the rest of the Canucks organization, as well as players from around the NHL.
But he gave no prognosis for his hockey future since a second surgery in New York on March 29, one Nash indicated on Twitter was needed to save his eye and vision.
"The past three weeks have been a very emotional time for myself and my family," Malhotra said.
Malhotra, who signed a three-year, $7.5-million contract last summer to be a shutdown third-line center, was not wearing a visor when a long pass was deflected up into his face, leaving a trail of blood as he dropped and slid to a stop before being rushed off the ice. He had the first surgery the same night, and the team announced five days later he was done for the season and playoffs.
"I have received the best possible medical care throughout this entire process," Malhotra said. "It is truly a blessing to be part of an organization with such quality, caring people."
Malhotra had 30 points in 72 games, was second in the NHL in faceoffs, and a big part of the Canucks rise from 18th to first in the league in penalty killing at the time of the injury.
Nash also talked about the injury on March 19, during halftime of the Major League Soccer debut of the Vancouver Whitecaps team he partially owns.
"When you talk about possibly permanent vision to somebody's vision that's scary," Nash said. "I know he's a very tough guy and a great person but we're all just thinking about him and really worried and hoping he can come back, not only to play hockey but just get his vision back and be comfortable and live the life he deserves to live."