Injured Denver forward Jesse Martin met with the media Tuesday and openly talked about the hit from North Dakota’s Brad Malone nearly three weeks ago and the time spent in the hospital since then.
Martin, his father, Terry Martin, and DU head coach George Gwozdecky addressed the media at a press conference at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo.
When asked about his well-being and if he feels any pain, Martin was very up-front.
“I think you are always in pain in this situation, but like you said, it is on the back burner,” said Martin. “I am feeling like one of the most grateful people on the planet right now. I can’t even express how humbling this experience has been for me. Even walking through this hospital and seeing people with similar injuries and seeing how differently it could have gone. In the shape I’m in, this quick after the surgery it’s overwhelming and pretty emotional for me. I am so grateful and that is pretty much how I am feeling. Pain is so secondary that it is not really an issue.”
When Martin was hit by Malone in the game on Oct. 30, he said he remembers everything very vividly.
“The hit, I definitely remember,” said Martin. “I was the first guy on the puck and went around the corner. I beat the first guy and I was trying to get off the wall and I knew there was going to be another forechecker on me at some point. I was trying to get off the wall and give it to the winger. I just lost it a little bit and then it slid into the slot and the last thing I wanted to do was lose that kind of opportunity, so I just reached for it and put myself in a very vulnerable position. And I didn’t see Malone coming at all, so I wasn’t able to brace, but then I lose the puck and the next thing I know is I’m on the ice.”
At that point, Martin knew immediately that something was definitely wrong.
“I am in a position that you would never find yourself in with my arm bent in a weird way,” Martin remembered. “It surprised me that I was in this position and why am I not moving out of this position, so then I thought that I may have been winded. Then, I realized that I wasn’t winded and started to be concerned that I couldn’t move my arms and couldn’t move my legs to get up and that didn’t happen. Then (Denver associate director of sports medicine) Aaron Leu came on the ice, and I can’t say enough how much he has done for me in this whole process. He calmed me down a little bit and said this could be very serious and I am not going to sugar coat it for you. He said it could either be a stinger where you hit your spine a little bit and it’s a stinger, or something happened to your neck. He said we needed to get the paramedics out here and get you off the ice on the stretcher and into an ambulance.”
Gwozdecky talked of how the DU players are like his children and when one child hurts, they all hurt.
“You care for your brothers, sometimes you fight like crazy with your brother,” said Gwozdcecky. “That love and that concern and the unknown of what was happening with him throughout this whole process have been at times overwhelming for many of us. I think I could speak for his teammates, as well as our coaching staff and the people at DU – we’re so relieved and thankful to know that he’s doing great, and that he’s walking and the sense of humor is back.”
Terry Martin said that seeing his son walk into the press conference made him beam with pride. He added that his range of emotions has been “just unbelievable.”
“The uncertainty of it all, not knowing exactly what was wrong and then, obviously, thinking ahead as to all the possible outcomes that could be there, is a frightening experience, very frightening,” said Martin. “And as things progressed, we began to see that there was a good strategy and the prognosis looked better and more favorable. I can tell you that this press conference today is 150 percent, 200 percent better than the first one because I was doing interviews before speaking on behalf of Jesse. The last one we had two doctors and myself and a model of his spine, and now we actually have Jesse speaking for himself.
“We couldn’t be more grateful for that. It’s awesome.”