Paul Postma has had a fight on his hands to get a full-time shot at playing in the National Hockey League, but nothing comes close to the battle he’s had for the last three months.
In late October the 24-year-old defenceman with the Winnipeg Jets discovered he had a blood clot in his lower leg that sidelined him “for several months”.
“I had this unexplained pain in my leg and I went to the trainers that morning in Denver and they tried to work it out,” explained the native of Red Deer. “As it turned out they sent me to hospital but said there was a 99 per cent chance it would be nothing.”
But after an ultra-sound that one per cent became reality.
“It was a big shock,” said Postma in an interview from Winnipeg. “I didn’t know anything about blood clots and I asked if I could play that night and they told me I’d be out one to six months. It was certainly deflating as I’m healthy and active.
“It was a freak accident. Nobody really knows what happened. It could have been a combination of things. I could have taken a shot, or slash to the ankle and that combined with dehydration and sitting on a plane where I may have had the ankle in an awkward position.”
After talking with specialists Postma discovered how dangerous the clot could have been.
“There’s a high fatality rate if its not caught in time,” he said.
“Also if it would have been four inches higher it would have been a lot worse. Once they told me that I was happy we caught it.
“But still it’s been frustrating and tried my patience.”
Postma was immediately put on blood thinners and told not to do anything.
It took a month before the blood clot fully left his system, but it was another two months before he would be taken off the blood thinners.
“The reasoning is to make sure the clot is out of your system and won’t come back,” he said. “I can deal with that. Three months is not that long when you look at the big picture.”
Postma has been skating and working out on his own since the middle of December, but definitely no contact.
‘The doctors explained that even on my own I had to be careful as if I tripped and fell into the boards there could be internal bleeding, but I’m working out every day and in good shape and looking forward to contact.”
Postma will have more tests on Monday and hopes to be back at practice on “the 18th or 19th.”
“The nice thing is that once I’m off the blood thinners they’re out of your system in less than 24 hours,” he explained. “Then I can have full contact again.”
He hopes to get back into the Jets lineup, as soon as possible something he’s been fighting to do since turning pro in 2009.
Postma came up through the Red Deer Minor Hockey system and played a year with the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs midget AAA team as a 15-year-old.
He went to the Swift Current Broncos in the 2004-05 season and played there until being traded to the Calgary Hitmen in the 2007-08 season.
Despite being drafted by Atlanta in 2007 he returned to the Hitmen as a 20-year-old in 2008 and had his best season, scoring 23 goals and adding 61 assists in 70 games.
The following two years he played with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL and getting only a taste of the NHL, playing one game with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010-11. The Thrashers transferred to Winnipeg the following season.
He played three games with the Jets in 2011-12 and 34 games last season, scoring four goals and adding five assists. This year he played eight games, with no points, before the blood clot was discovered.
“At the time we had four of our top defencemen out and I was hoping to get some good minutes,” he said. “But it wasn’t in the cards.”
But while Postma has been off he wasn’t far from the Jets organization.
“They have been class A all the way,” he said. “They allowed me to go home to be with my family for a time, which helped a lot, and also sent me to every specialist . . . they took good care of me.”