The NHL is chock full of stories worth reading about and remembering on a yearly basis. The human side of the game is one of the things that makes is so special, and Manny Malhotra’s return to the NHL is an early candidate for feel good story of the year. The former seventh-overall selection has done his time in this league, and was on the receiving end of a nasty eye injury in 2011 that put his career in jeopardy.
Freak accidents don’t get much freakier than that. The long pass from a Vancouver Canucks teammate hit a stick, hopped right up and nearly destroyed Malhotra’s ability to play hockey for a living.
The Canucks shut him down last year after nine games, fearing that his inability to utilize his peripheral vision would lead to further injury via body check or stick contact. The forward publicly disagreed with that sentiment, sat out the rest of the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign and failed to land a contract as a free agent over the summer.
Malhotra accepted a tryout in the AHL with the Carolina Hurricanes affiliate and after eight games, was signed to a one-year, two-way deal. He made his return to an NHL sheet of ice earlier this week and picked up right where he left off. Dominating in the faceoff circle and providing a strong two-way game for the Hurricanes.
While it remains to be seen what kind of future he has in the NHL, for the rest of the season at least, Malhotra will have overcome incredible odds in securing a professional contract following a devastating eye injury. And good for him.