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Principe's Blog: Road to Recovery

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Fedun skates during Oilers training camp in mid-September, 2011 at Rexall Place (Photo by Andy Devlin / EOHC).

I did do a double take -- a second look to make sure what I saw the first time was for real, and it was. Taylor Fedun on the ice, in skates gliding around the rink at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park. A sight to behold of a young man we last saw crumpled up in pain at the south end of the rink near the boards at the Xcel Energy Center. A right leg mangled, bent and broken for no reason other then a terrible decision to save an icing call in a pre-season game on September 30th between Edmonton and Minnesota. The decision made by Eric Nystrom. The life and career altering result on an innocent victim named Taylor Fedun.

To that point Taylor had been a surprise at camp. A smart kid (and how could he not be considering he went to Princeton) who had signed on with the Oilers. A hometown kid whose name wasn't put on a contract or the back of a jersey because of geography. Instead the team saw something in this defenceman. An AJHL alumni with Fort Saskatchewan and Spruce Grove who then moved to American university hockey. An honor student who felt it was an honor to play for the team he grew up cheering for as a little kid in the Alberta capital. It was a dream come true and Fedun wasn't waking up from it until that thud and blood curdling screams that echoed through the home of the Minnesota Wild.

To think of that night and a young man whose heart was almost as badly broken as his leg laying there wondering if he would ever walk normally again, let alone play hockey. To see him end up where he was and what he was doing Monday is nothing short of a miracle. Maybe medically it was always forecast to be a possibility but it's hard to believe it's realistic when morphine or painkillers help you get through the long days and nights of pain. Those feelings have subsided and now gloom and doom has given way to optimism and hope that this kid can make it all the way back to the cusp of where he was a few short months ago.

A titanium rod from his hip down through his leg which is held in place with screws tells you how bad this was for the 23-year-old. Since that frightful night I had seen Taylor quite often at Rexall Place. Sometimes once a week or every couple of weeks. Everytime I saw him there was progress. He went from a wheelchair, to crutches, to one crutch, to a cane to one day showing me he could stand with nothing but himself for support. 'Look ma, no hands!' Fedun would always pass on how much support he was getting from his brother and his parents, Jacqui and Dwayne. They were his lifeline what he couldn't do for himself they did for him. They should celebrate his return to the rink and the ice.

I first met Taylor at the rookie camp in Penticton and when I introduced myself, he said, "I know who you are, I grew up watching you." Well, he showed everyone exactly how grown up he is when Fedun was able to forgive Nystrom for his momentary indiscretion. The pain and suffering resulting from a single act of extreme carelessness isn't easy to forgive, but nothing has been easy for Taylor Fedun since that last day of September. That's what make his story so captivating and so inspiring. The story isn't complete, but one day it will be. The ending still to be written by Taylor Fedun. I think it will be a happy ending and that leads him back to the blueline with the Edmonton Oilers.

Author: Gene Principe
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