Toledo Walleye captain and Sylvania native Alden Hirschfeld will not play again this season.
Hirschfeld, a Northview High School graduate, has appeared in 199 games in five seasons for his hometown team. The forward suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during a collision in a Nov. 10 game at Wheeling.
The 30-year-old was not listed on Toledo's playoff roster released Tuesday. Hirschfeld has not been cleared for full contact by team doctors.
“It's tough,” Hirschfeld said. “It's obviously frustrating and hard. But it happened in the game. It's part of the game.”
Hirschfeld underwent surgery Nov. 28 and was ruled out of the lineup for the rest of the regular season. He never fully recovered enough to see game action this season.
Sylvania native Alden Hirschfeld will not return to the ice this year for the Walleye but retains his role as team captain.
The veteran had recorded two goals and three assists for five points in nine games this season.
Hirschfeld initially was placed on the 21-day injured reserve list, but further testing revealed the torn ACL. He has undergone months of physical therapy and has returned to skating but with no contact.
“You have to listen to the doctors,” Hirschfeld said. “They're doing what they think is best for you. I was not cleared for contact. It would still be for a bit yet until I was and even then it would be limited to being on the ice. Obviously, I respect the people that are in charge. They know what's best. There's no reason to take a chance and come back too early.”
The center, who was named Toledo's captain in February, 2017, said he hopes to return next season. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound forward has 59 goals and 94 assists for 153 points with the Walleye.
Hirschfeld tallied 49 points with a career-high 23 goals and 26 assists in 55 games for the Walleye last season. He has played in 199 games for Toledo, beginning in 2013-14.
Coach Dan Watson said team doctors and other physicians determined Hirschfeld risked re-aggravating the injury if he were to play again this season.
“It's a tough spot for Alden,” Watson said. “I feel for him because I know how badly he wants to be on the ice. It will be very difficult for him. But for the long term, I think it's better for his career. Knowing Hirsch, I fully expect him to be ready to go for next season. He'll battle through it.”
Watson said Hirschfeld will remain the team's captain.
“He's a major voice for the players,” Watson said. “No one else was named captain. He will still be a major part of leadership.”
Forward Kyle Bonis, who has played alongside Hirschfeld for four seasons, said Hirschfeld remains a huge part of the team.
“Hirsch is one of the best and most positive people I've been around,” Bonis said. “The things that the guy has had to deal with in the last couple of years is almost unfair. But his outlook never wavered. For him to be hurt all year and still want to be on every road trip shows how much he cares about us. He’s still our captain and a great sounding board for everybody. He's still going to be a valuable, valuable part of this.”
Hirschfeld also has been behind the bench during games helping out Watson and assistant coach Andy Delmore.
Walleye captain Alden Hirschfeld is not part of the Toledo Walleye playoff roster and will not rejoin the team this season after suffering a knee injury in November.
BLADE PHOTO Enlarge
“I still get to be part of the team. I still get to be on the coaching side and captain side,” Hirschfeld said. “It's been nice to learn that side of the game. I have always been interested in coaching.”
The forward also has persevered through a serious medical scare when he suffered a seizure during a Jan. 8, 2016, game. Just two months later, Hirschfeld had brain surgery to remove a malformation that had caused the seizure. He returned the next season to have the best year of his career.
“It's no different than the stuff with my head,” Hirschfeld said. “The mindset is what's best for the person and patient. Obviously, I'm still part of the team and we hope to keep it rolling.”
Hirschfeld, who played at Miami University, is in his sixth pro season. In his career, Hirschfeld has 161 points (63 goals, 98 assists) in 217 games in the ECHL, starting in 2012-13 with South Carolina. He has played in 68 career contests in the American Hockey League between Grand Rapids, Providence, and Portland.
“I'm sure he is frustrated. But he's a pro,” Watson said. “He understands the big picture of his life. A knee injury won't keep him down with everything he's been through.”
On Feb. 22, 2015, Hirschfeld posted single-game Walleye records with five assists and six points in a 12-0 win against Gwinnett.
Watson said Hirschfeld would have a spot on the team next season.
“He's been probably the most mature person I've been around,” Watson said. “For him to be a home-grown kid and come up through the ranks here … it's one of those things every organization wants in a captain.”
Hirschfeld played in 134 games in college in four seasons with Miami and had 35 goals and 35 assists. He played three years at Northview and was named the state's Mr. Hockey in 2006.
“I feel good right now, so it's tough not be cleared for contact,” Hirschfeld said. “I'll be fine. I've gone through it. I'll deal with it. I just want to continue to help the boys and hope to bring the city a Kelly Cup.”
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.