Former Oilers defenseman reveals near-death experience

Published August 18, 2023 at 10:09 PM

From time to time, NHL teams reveal injuries that their players have sustained, some of which are quite grizzly or gruesome. These incidents are often in plain sight for everyone to witness, such as Evander Kane last year, who got his wrist cut with a skate and hurriedly made his way to the dressing room in complete panic.

However, other incidents from the past are now coming to light as retired players engage in interviews with podcasts.

Sheldon Souray, a former Oilers defenseman, recently shared his near-death experience on the "Dropping the Gloves" podcast hosted by former NHL tough guy John Scott and Tim Dubya. Souray recounted the harrowing tale of almost losing his hand during the same ordeal.

Infections, especially staph infections, can be some of the most challenging to treat due to antibiotic resistance. As Souray explained, things took a serious turn for the worse as the infection continued to spread throughout his body.

Souray's words encapsulate the severity of the situation.

"Now I'm in the ICU for four days. Holy moly. I got a bone and blood infection, and they're talking about amputating my hand. They had to recut my hand open. The incision ran from my middle finger down to the end of my palm on both sides. They splinted it tightly; I couldn't move it. But then they had to splint it open again, and it was oozing pus."

He went on to describe the extent of his treatment:

"I was on all sorts of antibiotics that they give cancer patients. Dude, it was bad. The team was on the road at the time, so I hadn't even had a chance to call the trainer and explain the situation. I can't entirely blame them."
Souray then shared a pivotal moment: "One day, my buddy, who happened to be our strength coach, visited me. He asked how I was doing. I told him about being in the ICU, hooked up to various machines. They even had to insert a PIC line into my bicep to reach my heart, where they administered antibiotics to keep me alive."

Reflecting on the gravity of the situation, Souray recalled a conversation with a nurse:

"I asked a nurse if they were considering amputating my hand. She replied, 'Oh, honey, we're not even worried about that. We're concerned about the infection reaching your heart.' At that moment, I realized the seriousness of it all."

The story took an unexpected turn when Souray's strength coach discussed the matter:

"The strength coach came in and inquired about my well-being. I admitted that I'd been better. He then asked if I had informed the coaches or management about my condition. I replied in the affirmative. He shared that they believed I might be exaggerating the injury to avoid playing for the Oilers again."
Determined to set the record straight, Souray made a call: "In my medicated state, I reached for the phone. Keep in mind, I was on painkillers and antibiotics, confined to a hospital bed. I left voicemails for Kevin Lowe and Daryl Cates. I wasn't pleased."

Souray spent three seasons with the Oilers, from 2007 to 2010. His most outstanding year saw him play a total of 81 games, scoring 23 goals, assisting on 30, and amassing 53 points, along with 98 penalty minutes. Throughout his career, he also had stints with the New Jersey Devils, the Montreal Canadiens, the Dallas Stars, and the Anaheim Ducks.
August 19   |   59 answers
Former Oilers defenseman reveals near-death experience

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