Growing up in Alberta, Canada, Bill Vandermeer was always around lumber mills. He felt as comfortable with a chain saw in his hand as he did with a hockey stick.
Growing up in Alberta, Canada, Bill Vandermeer was always around lumber mills.
He felt as comfortable with a chain saw in his hand as he did with a hockey stick.
That’s why the Missouri Mavericks forward didn’t hesitate when a buddy and former teammate from Oklahoma City invited him down the help trim some trees.
“I was on a two-story ladder, with a chain saw in my hand, cutting a limb, when it snapped back and struck the ladder,” Vandermeer said.
“As I fell to the ground, I wanted to make sure I didn’t get tangled up in the ladder and I didn’t want to worry about the chain saw – which was buzzing away.
“So I threw the chain saw, pushed the ladder away and BANG! I hit the ground.”
Both heels struck the ground at the same time, resulting in a lengthy surgical procedure last Friday at Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence.
“It was May 29th – I shattered both heels and now have 15 screws, one pin, one plate and a bunch of liquid bone in my heels,” said Vandermeer, who will be confined to a wheelchair for 10 to 12 weeks.
“First off, I want to thank everyone who has been so supportive and the staff at Centerpoint – my surgeons, Dr. Nathan Melton and Dr. Greg Ballard, and my physical therapist, Matt Hess – I don’t know where I’d be without those guys.
“This is tough. I went through all the injuries last year, after never being injured in the previous five years of my career and I wanted to go into this season healthy and show our fans what I can do out on the ice.
“But I promise you this – I will be back!”
There was a grit and determination in his voice that highlighted that statement.
“They say I’m going to have to learn how to walk all over. Well, I’m ready for that. I have casts on both feet now, and I basically don’t leave the apartment. I have an air mattress on the floor and that’s where I spend most of my time.
“But as soon as the casts come off and they put on the air casts, I’m going to start swimming and getting back in shape. And soon, I can do core work and upper body work.”
Vandermeer said he had to be fingerprinted this week to renew his green card, and that the trip to take care of that process was awful.
“My wife wheels me out to the car, I grab the top of the car door and swing myself from the wheelchair into the car and soon, I can feel the blood pooling in my feet. It hurts so much, but you just have to learn to live with it.
“The worst thing, other than dealing with the fact that I might miss some of the start of the season and let the boys down, is that I’m going stir crazy.
“I know everything that’s on TV – on every channel. And I’m watching baseball and even watching some soccer. I’m an active guy and my surgery was just last Friday, so I have another nine to 12 weeks of this.
“If anyone wants to call, please call. I’m going crazy.”
Mavericks president and general manger Brent Thiessen and coach Scott Hillman are expected to comment on Vandermeer’s injury at this morning’s news conference (11 a.m. at the Independence Events Center’s Presidents Club), where the team will announce the signing of four or five players.
“We’re all thinking about Bill,” Hillman said earlier this week. “Right now, you just want him to get healthy. I know how disappointed he was last year with the finger injury and high ankle sprain.
“We want him to be a big part of our team this year, and when he gets healthy, we know he will be.”
Vandermeer tore a tendon in a finger in preseason, then suffered the high ankle sprain midway through the season, forcing him to miss 24 games.
“We saw the real Bill Vandermeer in the postseason, when he was just outstanding,” Hillman said. “That’s the Bill Vandermeer we want to see all this season – as soon as he completes his rehab and is back 100 percent.”
When told that the Mavericks would discuss his injury at the news conference, Vandermeer winced.
“That news conference should be upbeat and positive, I don’t want my injury to bring it down,” Vandermeer said. “I don’t want to rain on those guys’ parade. They deserve their moment because it’s going to be huge when the team announces who they have signed.”