Some things are bigger than hockey, as we were reminded on Saturday.
Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo returned to practice on Saturday after stepping away from the team last week to care for his four-year-old daughter Evelyn after she became seriously ill.
Pietrangelo told reporters that Evelyn had developed encephalitis, a type of brain lesion, from a flu, causing her to lose her motor skills, which included the ability to walk, eat, and even open her eyes for five days.
A week of treatment eventually eliminated the lesion, and Evelyn has since been on the mend.
"I don't want to say a surprise, but that progressed a lot quicker than I guess the original diagnosis," Pietrangelo said. "They can't really give you a timetable when your precious little girl is going to get better. It's pretty scary for Mom and Dad, so I said I wouldn't go back to work until I feel comfortable with where she is at home."
Pietrangelo spent most of the last week and a half at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, where he watched over his daughter.
“A lot of hours (at the hospital),” Pietrangelo said. “It’s not exactly around the corner from here, so a lot of up and down. A lot of late nights, and a lot of early mornings, plus I have three other (kids), so it was kind of a balancing act. I had to set time aside for the other three, and take care of your little girl. Rotating days and nights with my wife in the hospital. Those were long and emotional days.”
Evelyn returned home from the hospital on Wednesday, and began walking around the house within two days.
"We were thinking this could be months down the road," Pietrangelo said. "[Friday], she just kept walking and walking in circles for a full day. God answered our prayers. It's a miracle how much she's come along in the last 48 hours."
Despite the bit of good news after a harrowing few days, Evelyn still faces month of rehabilitation. Doctors have reassured the family that she will make a full recovery.
The Pietrangelo family shared an adorable moment before the defenseman's return to action on Saturday night against New York Islanders.
— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) December 18, 2022
Pietrangelo has missed Vegas' last nine games, in which the team went 6-3. The 32-year-old has been red-hot this season with 21 points in 23 games, second in scoring among Golden Knights defensemen behind Shea Theodore's 22 points. Theodore is currently out with a lower-body injury.
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