The nature of Jonas Hiller’s injury, and a timetable for his recovery, seem about as clear as they were a month ago.
Asked after Tuesday’s practice to describe exactly what he had, Hiller said the latest diagnosis of something called “positional vertigo” was ruled out.
“They can cure that pretty easily through different positionings and turning you around, and get rid of that pretty quick,” he said. “They tried that a couple times. it didn’t work on me so they ruled that out. So it’s a kind of vertigo. Nobody can really tell me where it’s coming from. Some people think it’s a virus in my inner ear. Other people say that my inner ear got concussed. Nobody can really tell me. Sure I want to know what caused it. I want to get better.”
In so many words, Hiller said he’s been advised to provoke the feelings of panic that are often triggered by turning his head or passing the puck, “to realize that it’s a normal situation.”
The scariest aspect of this is that, since he doesn’t know the source of the problem, Hiller has no assurances that it isn’t something he will have to deal with long-term.
That potentially bleak outlook contradicts what appeared to be a big sign of progress –Hiller’s first practice with teammates since he was placed on injured reserve Feb. 16.
Hiller practiced for 45 minutes with his teammates, alternating in and out of the crease with Ray Emery on one end of the rink, and Dan Ellis on the other. He faced shots just like the other goalies, and stopped his share as if nothing were out of the ordinary. Hiller left before the conditioning skate at the end of practice.
“From my neck downwards it feels great. That first drill out there with Pete where I just have simple movements, where it’s just go like one, and have one push, one stop … it feels all right. As soon as I pass it, or plays behind the net if I have to turn my head too often, then it seems kind of like ‘panic mode’ in my head. I feel all over the place. It feels to me like I’m always a second late. It always takes me a second to realize what’s going on. Especially plays behind the net. It’s a horrible feeling.
“I don’t think that’s something as a goalie you can play through. You have to feel sharp out there.”
So until he feels sharp, Hiller won’t be ready to play no matter how he looks in practice. And until he gets a precise diagnosis — or at least gets adequate treatment for his symptoms — there’s no telling how long that might take.
The most tangible good news, Hiller said, is that “it’s definitely better than it was a week ago, or a week and a half ago — but I can’t say that it’s gone.”
“I don’t think it’s a setback,” he said. “It’s taking longer than I want it to.”
A couple more notes from practice:
Brad Winchester skated at left wing on a line with Kyle Chipchura and George Parros in his first practice with the Ducks. More on him in the next blog entry.
Corey Perry left practice early with an undisclosed injury. “I’m going to say ‘lower body,’ ” Randy Carlyle said. “This is too early to talk about Corey at this point, he just left the ice after the start of practice.”
Saku Koivu (groin) skated for more than a half hour before practice, Carlyle said, and is a possibility to play tomorrow against the Detroit Red Wings. “He’s getting a treatment now, a specialist. Hopefully he’ll skate again tomorrow and the target for him will be moved up.”