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Jordan Smith loses sight in left eye, NHL dream is over

By David Helwig
SooToday.com
Monday, March 06, 2006

The professional hockey career of Mighty Ducks prospect Jordan Smith ended tonight, after officials at Maine Medical Center announced that the former Saultite won't regain vision in his injured eye.

The 20-year-old Portland Pirates defenseman underwent a second surgical intervention today, but the purpose was solely cosmetic and to improve his comfort.

An assessment prior to today's surgery had indicated sight could not be restored to the damaged eye.

Smith was hit in the face by a deflected puck on February 24 during a game against Manchester Monarchs.

The puck cut his left eye and broke the orbital bone surrounding it.

Smith was not wearing a visor at the time.

Second opinion from Boston

Retinal specialist Dr. Jeffrey K. Moore told a news conference tonight in Portland that Smith was examined by another retinal specialist in Boston, who agreed that the defenceman was unlikely to see again with his left eye.

"When you have a severe injury like this," Dr. Moore said, "the first goal is to stabilize the eye. We were able to do that the night of the injury and within hours of the surgery. Ideally, there is a waiting period to see if the vision can be restored, so on Wednesday ... he went to Boston to see Dr. Topping. Then as the week progressed we came to the conclusion that weren't going to be able to save his sight."

Dr. Moore told reporters that he hopes that today's procedure will be last eye operation needed by the former Greyhound.

"It is a challenge in the short term just with regard to getting accustomed to seeing out of one eye, but essentially people can lead a perfectly normal life with one eye, there are a lot of people that do that," the specialist said.

What Marty Smith said tonight

"I think attitude and character wins at what ever you do and I know he has that," Jordan's father Marty Smith said tonight.

"There is a period of adjustment, losing the sight in his eye and he is going to have to make some adjustments in his life. He is strong and he is one tough guy, not just physically but emotionally and mentally and I am sure he will overcome this."

"I'd like to thank [Mighty Ducks General Manager] Brian Burke and [Portland] coach [Kevin] Dineen," the father said. "Kevin has been tremendous with Jordan, I think it wore on [Kevin] as much as anyone I could tell. He is coaching a team and running a team and at the same time he still had time for my son. So I appreciate that. Brian did fly in once and then he flew in again a second time on Friday and Brian and Kevin talked about Jordan," said Marty Smith.

"I think the American Hockey League is unique, I think the players are close because they ride buses together, rather than in the NHL where it's different and they fly planes. I think in the American Hockey League your team grows very close because of the camaraderie that is established and Jordan made some life long friends in a very short period of time and I want to thanks him teammates for that," the player's father said.

The following news release was issued tonight by Portland Pirates:

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Mighty Ducks prospect Jordan Smith undergoes second surgery

Monday, March 06, 2006

Portland, Maine - The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Portland Pirates announced today that Jordan Smith is recovering at Maine Medical Center after a second successful surgery performed on his left eye.

Smith is under the care of orbital specialist Dr. Natan D. Kahn M.D., and retinal specialist Dr. Jeffrey K. Moore M.D.

"Today Jordan underwent a second surgery on his left eye, which was uncomplicated. It was determined pre-operatively that vision in the eye could not be restored and the intent of today's operation was to keep the eye comfortable and achieve the best cosmetic outcome. The surgery was successful in all aspects and he is recovering well and will be discharged tomorrow," said Dr. Moore.

Today's surgery came 10 days after Smith experienced extreme trauma to his left eye, caused by a deflected puck on February 24 as Portland faced Manchester.

At that time, Smith received emergency eye surgery performed by Dr. Moore and Dr. Kahn at Maine Eye Center.

"This is a very difficult situation for a young, brave man to go through. Our thoughts are with the entire Smith family, and Jordan will always be a part of ours," said Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Burke. "He will rebound from this and we will be there for him and his family as they move forward from here."

"It has been an emotional time for our team and all of our players. They all realize how fragile and incredibly special their playing careers are. All of our guys admire Jordan for his character and courage and we will all feed off his strong resolve that he has shown this past week," said Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen.

Smith was drafted in the second round (39th overall) of the 2004 NHL entry draft.

In his first year of professional hockey, he has recorded 6-8=14 points and 145 penalty minutes in 55 games with Portland this season.

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