LAS VEGS (KLAS) — Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who has been out of the lineup since late November because of an illness to his 4-year-old daughter, is set to return Saturday night against the New York Islanders.
Pietrangelo’s daughter, Evelyn, lost motor skills after flu-like symptoms and a lesion on her brain, the defenseman told media Saturday morning at the team’s pregame skate. She was unable to walk, talk or even open her eyes until a few days ago, and doctors at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center had to insert a feeding tube.
Pietrangelo said she has improved over the past several days, including being able to walk, and a full recovery is expected.
“Over Thanksgiving … she had the flu,” Pietrangelo said of his daughter. “That turned into what they called encephalitis, which creates a lesion on the brain. She basically lost all motor skills.
“The first five days, she couldn’t even open her eyes.”
Pietrangelo said the lesion on the brain was gone after about a week, something of a surprise, and doctors were still unable to provide a timetable for recovery. “It’s pretty scary for mom and dad,” he said.
He said then he wouldn’t “go back to work until I feel comfortable to where she is at home. … Me and my wife, I said if it takes a year for her to get back to where we want her to be, then so be it.”
Evelyn came home three days ago, Pietrangelo said, woke up and just said she was going to try to walk. “God answered our prayers,” Pietrangelo said. “It’s a miracle how fast she’s come along.” He also said there are months of rehabilitation ahead. “She’ll get there. … The resiliency she’s showed in the last 48 hours has been amazing.”
He also praised the medical team at Sunrise. “Everyone there was just amazing,” he said. “I know parents get emotional, but they were patient with us. … You got to give them credit for getting her back to where she is right now.”
Pietrangelo missed nine games; he last played Nov. 26, a 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks at T-Mobile Arena.
“It’s tough,” he said of watching the Golden Knights and not playing. He said he feels in a good place and did not expect any mental obstacles in returning to action. “I was able to skate between her therapy … and stay sharp,” he said.
He also thanked the Knights’ front office and his teammates for their support, acknowledging he had a hard time returning their phone calls and texts.
Pietrangelo, who turns 33 in January, is in his third season with the Golden Knights. He was selected by St. Louis in the first round of the NHL draft in 2008 and won a Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019.