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  • Thursday, October 28, 1999

    Ohlund still recovering from eye injury

     VANCOUVER (CP) -- A jagged scar is carved under Mattias Ohlund's right eye like stitching on a Halloween mask. The space behind the pupil is an angry red, about the same colour as a glass of tomato juice.
     It looks scary. But what is even more frightening for the Vancouver Canucks defenceman is he hasn't been able to see properly out of the eye since being hit in the face with a puck during a Sept. 21 NHL exhibition game in Ottawa.
     Now, over a month later, no one knows for sure when the 23-year-old from Pitea, Sweden, will play again.
     "I can see a little bit in front of my eye but I'm not really using it at all," Ohlund said Thursday, the first time he's talked about the injury.
     "It's been pretty much the same since it's happened. It's been improving but going slow."
     Doctors have told Ohlund the blood must drain from his eye before the vision will return. Right now it's a wait-and-see process.
     "There is a lot of blood in my eye and the blood could take a long time to go away," Ohlund said prior to the Canucks game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
     "It's going away a little bit at a time. It's tough to say right now" how long it will take.
     The fact Ohlund is up and walking around is good news. He spent the first two weeks after taking the puck in the face laying flat on his back in bed. It wasn't until around Thanksgiving he was finally allowed to begin walking around.
     Recently he started riding the stationary bicycle and doing light workouts.
     He still hasn't skated.
     "When it first happened I was really shocked," Ohlund said.
     "The first couple of days were really tough."
     Since being the Canucks first pick, 13th overall, in the 1994 draft, Ohlund has steadily matured into one of the league's best defenceman.
     He finished second in voting for the Calder Trophy during the 1997-98 season and played for Sweden's Olympic hockey team.
     Last year he was fifth in team scoring with nine goals and 26 assists and was named to the world team for the NHL all-star game.
     This year coach Marc Crawford can only wait for Ohlund to recover.
     "We just have to continue to hope and pray he continues to improve," Crawford said.
     "In the meantime, there is no pressure on Mattie to be hurried. It's something that is going to take time and we've all got to be resolved to that."
     Ohlund has been joined by his fiancee as he tries to control his impatience and waits for the blood to drain.
     "It would have been easier if it were my knee or shoulder," he said.
     "You can always do something about that. This is a thing you can't do anything about other than wait and see. I'm feeling pretty positive."
     Even though he's suffered one serious eye injury, Ohlund still isn't sure if he'll start wearing a visor.
     "We'll see what happens," he said.
     "Hockey is a tough sport. Things happen."



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