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Former Coyotes Ahead Craig Cunningham Returns to Ice with Prosthetic Skate

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VANCOUVER — Former NHL ahead Craig Cunningham simply needed to say thanks and debut his new skating leg.

The 28-year-old posted a video to Instagram on Wednesday that reveals him taking a fast spin round an area in San Diego, deftly carving the ice utilizing a prosthetic leg.

By Friday, the clip had been seen practically 600,000 occasions and garnered tons of of feedback calling Cunningham an inspiration.

“I used to be fairly stunned. I wasn’t completely paying consideration. Should you have a look at my social media profile, I wouldn’t say I’m an excellent social media doer,” Cunningham stated by cellphone from Phoenix on Friday.

“I used to be extra simply attempting to thank the (American Hockey League’s San Diego) Gulls and (coach) Dallas Eakins for letting me on the ice, type of simply present ‘Take a look at this new skate that I’ve.’ And present that I can proceed to do stuff, that it doesn’t matter when you have an amputation. I didn’t suppose it was going to explode the best way it did.”

The clip blew up due to what occurred to Cunningham greater than two years in the past.

Cunningham Nearly Died on the Ice

The native of Path, B.C., was warming up for a recreation along with his AHL staff, the Tucson Roadrunners, when he suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed on the ice.

Superior medical procedures saved his life however a complication required docs to amputate a part of Cunningham’s left leg, ending his time as knowledgeable hockey participant.

Picked up by Boston within the seventh spherical of the 2010 draft, the previous star of the B.C. Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants performed a complete 63 video games with the Bruins and Arizona Coyotes over his NHL profession.

Craig Cunningham (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The journey again to the ice has been lengthy and bumpy, Cunningham stated.

“It’s been a reasonably large curler coaster journey. A lot of ups and downs, type of emotional curler coasters,” he stated. “Firstly there, there have been much more downs than there have been ups. Now there’s much more ups than there are downs.”

Rehab was powerful. Cunningham needed to discover ways to stroll once more, and fought ache and discomfort your entire method. 

His background as an athlete helped.

“I used to be already used to pushing my physique to the bounds and pushing it just a little additional once I didn’t suppose it may go any farther,” he stated.

About three months after the accident, Cunningham tried skating for the primary time.

The expertise was disheartening.

“I used to be fairly let down after. My leg wasn’t healed. I used to be perhaps pushing issues just a little faster than I ought to,” he stated. “So I type of took a deep breath, took a step again and let myself heal. It’s been quite a bit higher ever since.”

Through the years, Cunningham tried just a few completely different set ups in an effort to get again on the ice, together with a skate boot on a prosthetic leg, however he couldn’t discover a rig that was snug.

Then, just a few months in the past, he began working with Peter Harsch Prosthetics.

A New Prostetic Skate

A specialist in making prosthetics for elite athletes, Peter Harsch crafted a leg that attaches to a light-weight, streamlined skate blade.

Lastly, Cunningham had one thing that felt good.

In the video posted this week, he streaks throughout the ice in huge arcs, stick in hand, as he confidently crosses over. He turns backwards and his stability falters barely. Cunningham turns to the digital camera, a grin on his face.

“Nonetheless can’t skate backward,” he says.

With the ability to skate comfortably once more was key for Cunningham, who’s been working as a professional scout for the Arizona Coyotes since Could 2017.

“I didn’t need to be bodily restricted to 1 position or one job,” he stated. “I wasn’t actually positive if I’d have the ability to coach or get again on the ice commonly. However this offers me some hope transferring ahead right here.”

Working as a scout has been a drastic change for a younger man who’s taking part in profession was minimize quick.

Cunningham describes his first few months on the job as powerful.

“I nonetheless needed to be on the market and I missed it on daily basis,” he stated. “I feel in some unspecified time in the future I used to be being just a little egocentric and I needed to understand ‘Hey man, these are the playing cards that you just have been dealt and also you have been fortunate sufficient to play and be part of the hockey household. And also you’re nonetheless concerned.’”

This season, he’s come to like his work and located a brand new ardour exterior of competing on the ice — discovering different proficient athletes who’ll increase the Coyotes’ group.

With the ability to be a part of what some gamers name the “darkish aspect” at a younger age has allowed Cunningham to be a sponge and absorb data from everybody round him.

Time to Give Again to Hockey

“Hockey’s given me all the pieces that I’ve as we speak and now I’ve a chance as properly to type of give again another way,” he stated.

He’s additionally giving again to the neighborhood that saved his life by means of the All Coronary heart Basis, which makes use of know-how to analysis and assist forestall cardiac arrests.

Docs have been by no means in a position to pinpoint what brought on Cunningham’s wholesome coronary heart to fail, and he’s since heard many comparable tales.

He needs to make use of his expertise to create change.

“The know-how these days is so good, however as an alternative of utilizing the good know-how on saving lives, we’re placing out iPhone 13s,” Cunningham stated, including that the inspiration plans to launch a brand new app in about six weeks.

“We actually suppose it’s going to make a distinction in saving individuals’s lives.”

— Comply with @gkarstenssmith on Twitter

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

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