By Brian Compton
For Dusty Jamieson, the 2006-07 campaign is one he’d rather soon forget.
The former fifth-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens had notched hat tricks in the team’s first two games of the season and was well on his way to enjoying his third straight 30-goal season with the Charlotte Checkers. But on Dec. 1, his season came to a screeching halt. Being the solid two-way player that he’s become in Charlotte, Jamieson was the lone man back on a 2-on-1 in a game against the Pensacola Ice Pilots. The next thing he knew, Jamieson was involved in a collision against the boards, his opponent’s skate cracking his helmet.
“I remember everything leading up to it,” Jamieson recalled. “It was a 2-on-1 and I was back checking. The guy just cut, and his skate just caught my helmet. I was a little numb for a few seconds and I remember getting to my knees and going to the bench. It wasn’t that bad, and I thought I’d be out for maybe a week or two.”
It was much longer than that, as doctors experienced problems figuring out exactly what was wrong. At first, the thought was Jamieson suffered your average concussion. In the end, though, it was neck trauma that kept Jamieson out of the lineup until April. He returned for the final game of the regular season and the Kelly Cup playoffs. The Checkers were swept in the South Division semifinals by the Florida Everblades.
“Last year was the most frustrating year I’ve ever had,” Jamieson said. “It was unbelievable. I’ve had injuries before, but you have a target date for when you’re going to get back and play, or you can play through it. But this injury was just awful. I hated the whole season. To miss that much was tough, especially after the start I had.”
Checkers head coach Derek Wilkinson was frustrated by the injury, too. On more than one occasion, Wilkinson was under the impression that Jamieson was returning to the lineup. In fact, Jamieson even participated in a day-of-game skate about a month after the collision. But setbacks prevented a comeback.
“It was frustrating on him,” Wilkinson said. “There were a couple of times when he was there at the day of the game skating and ready to play that night. He just couldn’t get past the neck injury. But it’s exciting to have him back. He’s one of the very few guys who has the fans on the edge of their seats every time he touches the puck. It’s not usual to have guys at our level who can do that.