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‘I don’t think it’s ever happened': Jovanovski cleared for remarkable comeback attempt

Jan 3, 2014, 2:40 PM EST

edjovanovskigetty Getty Images

At 37, Ed Jovanovski is attempting an unprecedented comeback.

Jovanovski, sidelined since March after undergoing major hip surgery, has been cleared to play on Saturday when the Panthers host the Predators in Florida.

In doing so, the Panthers captain could become a pioneer.

Jovanovski is trying to come back from hip resurfacing, a procedure consisting of placing a metal cap over the femur and a matching metal cup in the pelvic socket. It’s less invasive than a complete hip replacement (because more of the femur is left intact), but still a significant procedure.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, returning from said procedure is uncharted territory:

It’s believed that no athlete from any of the four major professional sports has ever come back successfully after this relatively new procedure.

Former Lightning center Tim Taylor underwent hip resurfacing at 37 after the 2007 season and never played another NHL game. Bo Jackson, an NFL and MLB star, had a hip replacement in 1991 and was forced to retire at 29.

“I don’t think it’s ever happened,” said Dr. Audie Rolnick, a Plantation hip replacement surgeon, who doesn’t do resurfacing.

“Hockey of all sports, has a huge amount of stress on the joint and the hips, so I think it’s going to be pretty rough for him at 37 to come back. His skating will be fine, but it’s the crashing into the boards and other players crashing into him. The crashes will loosen up the prosthesis and cause pain.

“I would never let anyone go back to playing a sport like this.”

(Here’s a piece on Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis trying to come back from the same procedure.)

Panthers GM Dale Tallon praised Jovanovski’s dedication and hard work to getting back on the ice, especially since Jovanovski’s career appeared to be in jeopardy after missing 83 of Florida’s last 89 games.

“[Jovanovski] worked extremely hard during his extensive rehabilitation process,” Tallon said. “[He] should be commended for his diligent efforts both on and off the ice.”

Florida’s coach, Peter Horachek, is unsure how Jovanovski’s comeback will pan out.

“The way he practices he looks ready,” Horachek explained. “You’re kind of working on [uncharted] ground that hasn’t been worked on before with this surgery.”

  1. storminator16 - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Uhmmmm…Bo retired from football but still played baseball for a couple of seasons after his hip replacement, albeit strictly in a DH role.

    • storminator16 - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      Bo Jackson that is.

    • storminator16 - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      Either way, I’ll be rooting for Jovanovski.

  2. lowenni - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Wow, that’s pretty awesome. I don’t know if it’ll work in the long run, with like the doctor said all the pressure and hitting and such on the joints, but just his dedication alone is very admirable and inspiring. As the captain of the team it’ll really set a great example for a young Florida team on what it takes to be a great professional athlete and the dedication that goes into it. Best of luck to Jovanovski.

  3. skr213 - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Floyd Landis won the Tour de France after undergoing this procedure I think. (of course, he later was caught doping, but that’s another story)

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      Not generally as much body contact in bicycling, besides the crashes.

      • skr213 - Jan 3, 2014 at 5:35 PM

        Yeah, but the entire exercise of cycling all revolves around the hip joint. How many thousands (millions?) of reps is a cyclist’s leg doing in riding the Tour?

  4. nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    I sure wish Jovo the best, especially going through airport security.

  5. spochiefsfan - Jan 3, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    Cycling? The article mentioned” the four major sports”, not hobbies.

    • skr213 - Jan 3, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      Sounds like someone who couldn’t ride 50 miles, let alone 5000.

  6. proudliberal85392 - Jan 3, 2014 at 9:11 PM

    Been a fan of Jovo’s since his Coyotes days. Here’s wishing him well.

  7. mp1131211 - Jan 4, 2014 at 2:43 AM

    The line about Bo’s hip replacement is like saying “Its unknown whether or not a peeled apple will still hold its shape using an apple peeler because in the past we’ve tried to peel an apple using a chainsaw and it just didn’t work.”

    Hip resurfacing has come a long way. I bet he’ll be fine. Should be able to do nearly everything that he’s done in the past. He can’t have more than a couple years left anyway, right? Its the long term that would be questionable.

  8. jbromand - Jan 4, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    I am no pro,however I do have 2 hips resurfaced or BHR’s as those of us who have had them call it…
    and yes I am playing hockey again , good on Ed wish him luck.

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