FORT WAYNE – Center Colin Chaulk may have looked off in his last nine games with the Komets – he had no goals and five assists – but there was a reason, and the Komets’ captain is ready to discuss it.
Chaulk, 36, could barely lift his arm. His body seemed to be deteriorating. He felt helpless to stop it.
I probably shouldn’t have been playing, he said. But I thought I was well enough and that things would get better.
Chaulk has led the Komets to five championships since joining the team in 2002 – and he has had his share of scares off the ice.
In 2008-09, a MRSA staph infection in his foot cost him 35 games and almost his career.
It seemed extraordinarily bad luck when he got another staph infection in his other foot last December, this one costing him 26 games.
But that infection was more debilitating than most knew. Doctors believed they had it under control, Chaulk said, but it came back suddenly with a 103-degree fever, he lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital Jan. 11.
Chaulk said he has since had problems with his brachial plexus and phrenic nerve, parts of the spine that control movement of the limbs and breathing.
It’s messing up my speech sometimes. There’s paralysis of the muscles, which are weakening, and it’s like there’s nothing I can do, Chaulk said. And it’s getting worse. My arm basically feels like it’s asleep, and my left eye closes a little sometimes, which is a little frightening. It’s just bizarre what’s going on. I have no strength or control of my left thumb and left index finger.
With the Komets still hoping to make the playoffs – they were eliminated from contention with their 8-2 loss Wednesday to Reading – he came back to play from Feb. 16 to March 8. Since then, he has been behind the bench as Al Sims’ assistant coach.
For the season, Chaulk totaled two goals and 22 points in 28 games, though he was also limited by a shoulder injury and a groin strain, which took him out of the lineup for good in March.
Chaulk, who has 184 goals and 684 points in 578 career games with the Komets, doesn’t know whether he will retire or continue playing next season.
I need to get healthy before I decide, he said, adding the Komets have been great about making sure he gets the best treatment for his ailments.
If Chaulk’s playing career is done, he hopes fans will understand why he looked off in his final games.
I think people should know what’s going on, Chaulk said as the Komets traveled to Elmira, N.Y., for tonight’s game.
Note: The Komets waived defenseman Dan Nycholat, who had two goals and 18 points in 60 games this season.