Two fractured verterbrae. Damaged nerves and tissue. Excruciating pain in the hands and feet and a six-week spell in a back brace.
For some athletes, that may have been the cue to admit defeat and hang up the skates. But not Mayson Raymond, who now has 4 points in 2 preseason games and has been impressive thus far for the Toronto Maple Leafs during his tryout contract.
Preseason is, of course, just that. But Raymond, who scored a career-high 25 goals and 53 points for the Vancouver Canucks back in 2009-10, may have a shot at something resembling a career-revival if, as appears likely, he lands a job with the Leafs come the start of the season.
During the Leafs 3-2 victory over the Senators in Ottawa Thursday night, Raymond showed the speed, agility and scoring touch for which he once was recognised as he played alongside James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri.
Raymond was released by the Canucks in July after scoring 22 points in 46 games in the lockout-shortened season. The sense was that he had never really recovered from what happened two years earlier.
Barely 15 seconds into Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup, Raymond was thundered into the boards by Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk. The 26 year-old’s head was pushed down as he fell backwards, tailbone-first, into the corner. From a rinkside perspective, it didn’t look nearly as bad as it turned out to be. Raymond even left the ice on his feet, albeit propped up by a couple of teammates (an arguably risky act considering the damage to Raymond’s spine). But the reality was quite different and Raymond didn’t return to ice for nearly six months.
“Of course it was scary,” he told the National Post in December 2011. “My life, your hockey life, flashes before your eyes.”
Mason is currently considered to be vying for a place on the 3rd line for the Leafs. In doing so he needs fight off young gun Carter Ashton, who has impressed at camp and during games with his physicality. If he does, expect to see him aligned with Nikolai Kulemin and Dave Bolland.
Head coach Randy Carlyle has been impressed with what he’s seen so far. “He’s always has separated himself with that (speed),” said Carlyle on Thursday.
The Leafs will be hoping Raymond can sustain the scoring touch that made him one of Vancouver’s more offensively dangerous forwards before the injury that could have cost him a career.