Roenick says latest concussion his ninth

Updated: February 15, 2004, 10:04 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers center Jeremy Roenick is considering retirement after sustaining the ninth concussion of his career when he was struck in the face with a puck.

 Jeremy Roenick
Roenick

Roenick had surgery to repair a broken jaw after he was drilled by a slap shot off the stick of New York Rangers defenseman Boris Mironov on Thursday.

``I'm mulling over a lot of things right now and I'm not ruling out retirement,'' Roenick, 34, told The Philadelphia Inquirer while in attendance for the Flyers' home rematch with New York.

Roenick, whose jaw is wired shut, said he doesn't expect to return for the regular season.

``My senses have been good, but other symptoms like lightheadedness and dizziness and nausea and stuff like that have been pretty prevalent the last few days,'' he said.

``No one wants to come back more than I do, but no one has to live my life like I do. So I have to take some very cautious steps here.''

Roenick plans to fly to Montreal to visit neurologist Karen Johnston, his agent, Neil Abbott, told the Inquirer.

Roenick said the concussion, in the midst of a promising season for the team, is the biggest challenge of his career. But he remains motivated to return to the ice.

He hopes ``to do everything I can to try to get back when I can and help this team go to the Stanley Cup,'' he said.

Roenick, the team's second leading scorer, has 18 goals and 27 assists in 57 games for the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers.

General manager Bob Clarke told the Philadelphia paper that he was unaware Roenick had suffered so many concussions. The Sporting News Hockey Register lists only three coming into this season.

"We hope he won't be out two months," Clarke told the Inquirer. The Flyers think he can return in four to six weeks, and Clarke told the paper he was not inclined to trade for another player.

"I'm a little shook," Roenick told the paper. "When you take two shots point-blank to the face like I have in the past two months, it's a pretty scary thing. I have to see how the neurological stuff turns out and how my body reacts before I do anything."

Coach Ken Hitchcock expects him to play.

"I don't think there is any question he will be back," Hitchcock told the Inquirer. "Right now, he is riding an emotional wave ... He needs some rest."

After being told Roenick was considering retirement, Hitchcock reiterated that Roenick's emotions were frayed at this point, according to the paper.

Roenick acknowledged that he was considering retirement because of repeated concussions -- much like former Flyer Eric Lindros, according to the paper.

Abbott told the Inquirer his client would soon visit with Johnston, considered by many the foremost neurologist in North America. She also attends to Lindros, who has suffered eight concussions.

"We think it would be best if Jeremy talked to Karen Johnston," said Abbott, who sat with Roenick's father, Wally, at the game. "Jeremy has a significant concussion, a really bad one. He's been nauseous and all the symptoms that come with a bad concussion. We're concerned ... They are starting to pile up."

"It's a worry for us all," Clarke told the paper. "The only good thing we took out of this was the doctors would not have operated if they were worried about the concussion."

Clarke praised the five-man team of doctors in New York who performed surgery on Roenick's jaw, saying the doctors "did a fantastic job."

Roenick has nausea and dizziness, and is lightheaded, according to the Inquirer. He has asked Guy Lanzi, the Flyers' oral surgeon, about performing a second operation with bigger plates and elastic bands that would allow Roenick to eat some soft food and prevent him from losing the 15 to 20 pounds he expects to lose.

"I'm going to weigh all my different options," he said.

Abbott had Roenick sucking down milkshakes this weekend to keep his weight up, according to the Inquirer.

Asked whether he was facing the biggest challenge in his career, Roenick told the paper: "No question, no question -- like I said, [I'm] talking about my ninth concussion and wondering how this is going to affect me."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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