Veteran forward Carl Hagelin was enjoying another solid season this year when suddenly it came to a screeching halt. The Washington Capitals winger suffered a mysterious eye injury at some point in early March, which was only disclosed once he underwent surgery on March 6. He was deemed out “indefinitely” and did not return this season. Speaking at the Capitals’ end of the year media availability Sunday, Hagelin filled some of the gaps in his injury story and provided a glimpse into the future.
According to Hagelin, his eye injury was a “freak accident” that occurred in practice. A high stick caught him under the visor and hit him “right in the eyeball”. The incident ruptured the choroid in the back of his left eye, a collection of blood vessels responsible for the health of the eye. It has taken not one, but two surgeries to repair the injury. However, the repair is not complete. In fact, Hagelin states that he will never get full vision back in his eye and does not know how it will impact his attempt at a return next season.
Hagelin is signed through the 2022-23 season and hopes to honor that contract. He is optimistic that he can overcome his damaged vision and has been receiving support from Detroit Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal in his recovery. Staal, who was teammates with Hagelin with the New York Rangers, suffered a serious eye injury early in his career, but was able to return.
Carl Soderberg is perhaps the greatest beacon of hope. The former NHLer suffered an even more serious injury to his left eye while playing in Sweden early in his career. The injury required numerous surgeries over a months-long hospital stay and left Soderberg legally blind in that eye. Despite all that, he went on to have a full NHL career.
Hagelin noted that he will learn from Staal and Soderberg, including copying their oversized visors if he does return, and hopes to find the same success in his recovery.