Five years after a devastating knee injury changed the course of his once-promising career, Emerson Etem is at peace with his lot in life.
The former WHL star was a standout with the Medicine Hat Tigers, scoring 252 points in 202 games before he was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the 2010 NHL Draft. He had a promising rookie season, scoring three goals and adding seven assists in 38 games, but his game started to turn a corner with a strong showing in the 2012 playoffs.
That career trajectory, however, was short lived.
Etem was on the receiving end of a scary knee-on-knee collision with San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres during an untelevised pre-season game in 2013. He managed to play 29 games in 2013-14, scoring seven goals and adding four assists, but his season — and ultimately his career — was cut short due to that brutal collision.
Both Torres and Etem were forced to leave the game, but it was the latter who never seemed to be able to rebound from the scary hit. He spent the next few seasons bouncing in and out of the lineup, with intermittent trips down to the AHL before he was traded to the New York Rangers in 2015. He was then shipped off to the Vancouver Canucks the following season.
Three years later, following a brief stint in Switzerland and a failed tryout with the AHL’s Ontario Reign, Etem took to Instagram to shed some light on his difficult road to recovery.
In his heartbreaking Instagram post, Etem mentions Robby Fabbri and Derek Dorsett, two young players who also suffered devastating injuries. Fabbri tore his ACL twice in back-to-back seasons and missed nearly two full campaigns, while Dorsett announced his retirement two years ago at just 32 years old after undergoing surgery to repair a disk degeneration in his neck.
Etem’s social media post is an unfortunate reminder of the devastating injuries that can haunt a professional athlete’s career. Fans can be thankful that Etem’s found peace of mind with his growing family, but watching as an injury slowly pushes you away from the game you love has got to be tough to accept.
More NHL coverage from Yahoo Sports