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Ex-Flyer Wellwood (severed Achilles) announces retirement

May 30, 2014, 7:14 PM EDT

EricWellwood Getty Images

A gruesome skate cut ended Eric Wellwood’s playing career, but kickstarted another one.

On Thursday, the former Philadelphia forward announced his retirement at age 24, but also announced he’d be joining the coaching staff of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals.

Here’s more, from the Windsor Star:

“I knew for a while I wasn’t going to play,” said Wellwood, who was introduced Thursday at the [Oshawa] team banquet. “I didn’t tell anybody because I didn’t want to deal with it. I knew a long time ago I was done playing, I just didn’t know what I was going to do after the fact.”

A two-time Memorial Cup champion, Wellwood was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers and appeared in 31 regular-season games and 11 playoff games with the club over three seasons.

When he made the decision to not continue playing, the Flyers offered him a position in the organization.

“I had a job offer with the Flyers before D.J. [Smith, Oshawa’s head coach] talked to me,” Wellwood said. “I didn’t take it because I didn’t want to make a decision so early and it worked out great.

“It was a player development and assistant coach job with the [AHL] Phantoms, but it wasn’t on the bench and the one thing I wanted to do is be behind the bench.”

In April 2013, Wellwood suffered a severe skate laceration to his ankle during an AHL game, one that sliced tendons and cut an artery in his calf, resulting in a “skate filled with blood.” He underwent two surgeries to try and repair his Achilles tendon — which was 70 percent severed — and three other tendons that were “completely severed,” per the Philadelphia Daily News.

The injury was supposed to sideline Wellwood for nine months, but the damage proved too severe and ended his playing career.

“It never fully recovered,” he told the Star. “I’m happy where it’s at, but I’m not able to perform at the level of a pro athlete. I can go hard one day, but not the next. I spoke to the surgeon and he said if kept pushing, I was going to hurt the outside tendons. You have to keep the good tendons.”

  1. shamu1the1whale - May 30, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Damn, hockey players are so underrated. The injuries they go through… Yet they pick themselves right up and keep on truckin’.

  2. flyerspsu - May 30, 2014 at 9:28 PM

    Wow awful news

  3. rushledger - May 30, 2014 at 9:54 PM

    Never want this to happen to anyone, similar to Maclean for the Coyotes retiring with a heart condition so young and way too soon. Sorry to hear.

  4. macgrubie - May 30, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    That’s got to be difficult. Best of wishes to him

  5. phillyphanatic77 - May 30, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    Must suck to be forced out of the career you love at just 24. The guy wasn’t the most skilled but he skated like the wind and always gave maximum effort… it’s a shame. Atleast he still gets to be around the sport. Good luck behind the bench.

  6. spyder9669 - May 30, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    son of a B that’s gotta be one painful injury. The next time an NFL player gets a torn achilles i’m gonna be like well thats not too bad then lol. sure beats completely severed along with a bunch of other stuff

  7. c9castine - May 31, 2014 at 1:05 AM

    classy move by Flyers brass to immediately offer him a job. right thing to do and i know they have a reputation of it.

  8. flyboystransport - May 31, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    Hate seeing player’s having to retire because of goofy injuries. Seems to only happen in the nhl

  9. cofran2004 - May 31, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Wellwood was a good player, and a good guy. He was the first to talk to fans off the ice, and always played with a bit extra. Best goal I saw him score was a two on one. The defender sold out and slid on the ice to stop the shot, and Wellwood calmly waited and watched as the poor sap slid on his belly past him. Then Wellwood calmly wristed a very accurate and hard shot right by the goalie, pumped his fist once, and skated the the bench.

    He was a very calm and even keeled player, and he had a promising career ahead of him. It’s too bad it was ended by a freak injury like this.

  10. linkriver1978 - May 31, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    I haven’t been a hockey fan for very long; I saw a NHL game and got hooked. I live in Glens Falls so a friend took to a Phantoms game. Since I didn’t know much about the game, my friend told me to either watch the puck or pick out one player to watch . Near the beginning of the first game Welly scored on a break away. Told my friend, ” OK, I’m taking that guy.” It was such great fun to watch Wellwood play hockey. It was awful to see him get hurt so severely that he couldn’t play. We all feel better now knowing he is going to be able to stay in hockey. With this early a start in coaching, he’s got a chance at a great career. Hope I live long enough to see him get a Stanley Cup. The hockey gods owe him one.

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