Photo credit:(Photo from Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff)
Leafs prospect Roni Hirvonen returns to AHL action after nearly losing eye
By Bennett Jull25 days ago
Last night the Toronto Marlies battled with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and for the second consecutive game, Roni Hirvonen laced them up. Not only did the 22-year-old play, but for the second match in a row, he registered an assist. It’s amazing to see him playing again, long may his good health continue.
Hirvonen has certainly had some awful luck this year. It started in Development Camp, where he was lined up and drilled by Noah Dillingham. The hit was of the Scott Stevens variety, and Hirvonen suffered a serious concussion, putting his final summer preparations and training camp on hold. Hirvonen fought hard to make it back to start the year and managed to do so.
Sadly on October 15th in his second ever AHL game, Hirvonen took an errant high stick to the eye. The blade of the stick went directly into his eye, causing serious damage. At first, the swelling needed to subside, but there was fear he would have some serious permanent damage and never play hockey again. His vision was slightly impaired, and the prognosis was unclear.
Hirvonen was told to relax… Don’t skate, don’t workout, don’t get your heart rate up. Any athlete would have been discouraged, and grown increasingly frustrated. As the weeks went by, his diagnoses remained the same. Fortunately, towards the end of 2023, things finally started to improve. He was given the green light to resume light workouts, before finally getting back on the ice. As we crossed into January, Hirvonen simulated a training camp to get his fitness back to an adequate place.
While his vision may not be back fully to 100%, he has been able to safely return, and he looks good doing so. Toronto’s prospect cupboard is pretty thin, and there were many who hoped the former 2nd round pick would make his way onto the Maple Leafs’ radar this season. A strong back half of the year will do the Finnish-born forward a world of good, and hopefully give him the opportunity to have a strong summer. With this setback behind him, he will have aspirations of going on a tear as the Marlies chase down a playoff spot.
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