Former Maine Skater Libby May Lose Eye After On-Ice Injury

Former Maine defenseman Jeff Libby had his right eye accidentally lanced by a skate Saturday night while playing for the Lowell Lock Monsters in an American Hockey League game against the St. John’s Maple Leafs. Despite a five-hour operation late Saturday night, Libby is likely to lose the affected eye.

The injury occurred when Maple Leafs forward Mark Deyell was hit by two Lowell skaters, causing Deyell’s skate to fly up and slice Libby’s right eyeball as he followed the play. Libby was not wearing a visor at the time.

“The odds are against him (regaining sight), but where there’s a chance, there’s hope,” Lowell team spokesman Randy Sieminski said last night.

Dr. John McNicholas, ophthalmologist at the Health Science Centre in St. John’s, was attending the 24-year-old Libby, assisted by Leafs team doctor Dick Barter.

“The skate cut with considerable force,” Barter told the St. John’s Evening Telegram. “The eyelid is quite dreadful.”

“My (11-year-old) son was at the game and he said, ‘Dad, I’ll never play hockey without a visor,'” McNicholas said. “If there’s some good that came out of it, I think Jeff would like it that way.”

Libby is currently listed in stable condition, and a decision must be made about whether to remove the eye within the next few days, since otherwise the vision in his other eye may be affected.

Libby spent three years playing at Maine before being signed by the Islanders last year. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder played one game for New York in 1997-98, splitting the season with Utah of the IHL and Kentucky of the AHL.