Capitals’ John Carlson opens up about horrific injury: ‘One in a million thing’

John Carlson (74) could return to the Capitals roster next week. (Geoff Burke – USA TODAY Sports)

After hearing about the trauma John Carlson suffered after being hit in the head in December, you might wonder if the Washington Capitals defenseman would ever play another game in the NHL. But if Carlson is successful, he could very well play for the Capitals on Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Carlson recently spoke to reporters about the frightening experience and injuries he suffered as a result of that unlucky December 23 stroke. Once team doctors were able to stop a frightening amount of bleeding, the 33-year-old was diagnosed with a fractured skull. and a lacerated temporal artery.

Carlson provided The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir with a more visceral description. Here are some quotes that show how painful the situation was.

“I just got struck by lightning,” Carlson said. “That’s the only way to describe it…

“There are always close calls. There’s always a lot of “Oh man, this could have hurt or this could have been bad”. It was bad. It’s a one in a million thing – and it happened to me…

“It was bleeding SO a lot. The only way I could describe it is simply survival.

Carlson also noted that he felt bad for the player who took the shot: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon, a former Capitals teammate. The two have spoken to each other several times since the incident.

Carlson hopes to play for the Capitals again this season

Speaking of his Capitals teammates, as Carlson gradually felt better and eventually speeded up his recovery, he experienced the kind of isolation others experience while dealing with significant injuries.

“These first few weeks were excruciating,” he told El-Bashir. “They were painful, sad. Since then, I feel good. »

Remarkably, Carlson said he had not been diagnosed with a concussion, nor had he noticed the type of symptoms you would associate with such an injury. It’s a key note because Carlson wants to return to NHL action in the near future, although that’s not a sure thing right now.

“It was a lot of work and time,” Carlson told El-Bashir. “At three months, medically, there is no longer any possible cure. That’s what I do, that’s what I to want TO DO. So that’s the decision.

From the outside, it seems foolish to risk additional injuries — especially on a Capitals team with extremely low odds of playing meaningful games — but Washington coach Peter Laviolette has captured some of the difficulty in telling a player to stay on the sidelines when he feels ready to go.

“If you were to do that, you’d be telling a healthy player ‘you’re not going to play.’ That also creates problems,” Laviolette said, via’s Tom Gulitti.

Whether Carlson returns in 2022-23 or waits until next season, it looks like he’s eager to come back from a serious injury that could have been even worse.