Doctors have yet to get to the bottom of why T.J. Brodie collapsed in practice Thursday, but the Calgary Flames’ team physician said the defenceman is out of danger.
“The reasons for why people faint are many, and dehydration certainly could be one of them,” said Dr. Ian Auld at a Friday morning press conference to discuss the scary episode that still has teammates, staffers and media-types who witnessed the dramatic episode shaken.
“At this point we don’t have all the information – we still have a few more tests to go – but it’s very likely related more to a fainting episode than it is something significant inside the brain.”
Brodie was responsive and sitting up when raced to hospital after collapsing during a drill that saw him go into seizure-like convulsions and drew immediate attention from a medical staff.
“I can’t thank the work of the medical team enough,” said Calgary GM Brad Treliving, who also raced down to the ice to be by Brodie’s side as attendees helped him regain consciousness.
“You saw the best in the business in action, live and in colour there.After a few minutes, T.J. was alert, he was responsive. He was transported to Foothills Hospital and he remained there for the remainder of the day into the early evening. A battery of tests took place, and then T.J. was released. He was at home last night resting with his family. All the tests have come back negative. He’s doing well. We’re not going to leave any stone unturned. There’s no set timetable for T.J.’s return. There’s good news that he’s come through everything so far. He’s doing good, is on the mend. He’ll stay under the supervision of our team, led by Ian.”
“He’s feeling good. He’s sore.”
Joined by his teammates at the hospital, Brodie was quickly subjected to ribbing from the lads.
“It doesn’t take long,” chuckled Treliving.
“The guys were joking with him, saying, ‘if you needed the day off you could have asked. But thanks for getting us the day off.’”
Practice was cancelled Thursday after the emotional episode, which captain Mark Giordano said was preceded by complaints minutes earlier of Brodie feeling light-headed as he asked for Gatorade and an energy bar.
Giordano said it was the scariest moment of his career.
“It was scary,” agreed Treliving.
“You don’t see this. It was emotional, for everybody. When he first passed out, he was out. By the time I got down to the ice, his eyes were open. I don’t know if he was communicating a lot, but he was alert. When the medical team first got to him, he was out. It took him a few seconds to come to.”
Auld said there are many things that can prompt fainting.
“The purpose of fainting is to eliminate gravity and help your heart get blood to your brain,” Auld said when asked why Brodie’s legs were flailing as he convulsed.
“If there’s a period of time where that doesn’t happen, the brain can go on hyperdrive and with that, can come some of the motor movements that we saw. That’s an assumption – we have a lot of other tests that we need to do and we’re not hanging our hat on that, but he does have some other test that we need to complete to look at the neurological component of it.”
Brodie will not make the trip with the Flames to Arizona Friday and will instead remain under Auld’s medical supervision. The Flames have called up fellow defenceman Oliver Kylington.
“It can happen to anybody, but especially when it’s a teammate, I think our team was very affected,” said Treliving.
“Ian and I were at the hospital all while TJ was there, and it was a stream – the whole team was up there at some point. They were very affected. We met this morning, updated them, but that’s – yeah, the closeness on this team was prevalent when they see a teammate in trouble like that.”
Before Brodie had been wheeled off the ice he had an exchange with Travis Hamonic while Sean Monahan tried calling Brodie’s wife, Amber, with the news.
“We live real close to one another and I think she was putting up Christmas decorations at the time – she didn’t have her phone on her,” said Monahan, who summoned his girlfriend to knock on their door with the news and an offer to look after their one-year-old daughter while Amber went to the hospital.
“He’s a really close friend and our wives are extremely close and our daughters are two weeks apart – I wanted to be there as best I could to support him,” added Hamonic, who also helped praise on the medical staff.
“It was a really scary moment – you immediately feel for his wife and daughter at home, not really even knowing it was happening.
“You could tell the panic everybody had on the ice and in the room. It was a tough day for all of us. It’s not easy to see. It’s hard. It’s one of those things I’ve never seen in my career. It was a scary real-life moment – one of those things that snaps you back into reality and you forget about hockey and everything else around it at that point. I believe his guardian angel was there to help him.”
The players and coach Bill Peters admitted it was on their minds all day and night, including Friday’s practice.
“It’s going to linger for a little bit for sure, and it’s going to linger for T.J., but T.J.’s a hockey player and he wants to play. Some of his questions in the hospital are like … I want to go. I want to go.’ You’ve got to make sure everything’s in order.”
“Everyone’s different. I know how it affected me. It’s hard. It’s really hard to see somebody in that situation. Very hard. I think we understand that. It’s very uncomfortable.”
The relief the group felt at the hospital was added to Friday when Auld and Treliving answered more questions.
“He looked a lot better mid-afternoon than he obviously did at 12 o’clock or 12:15, and then to hear Dr. Auld address the situation this morning, a guy who is on top of it at the top of his field of what he does,” said Peters.
“A lot of questions from the guys about the situation. I think there’s some things to be learned there.”