Justin Hodgman: Sheffield Steelers star signed weeks after breaking his knee cap

Justin Hodgman has revealed the astonishing faith shown in him by Steelers - they signed him when he was recovering from a broken knee cap.
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The centreman was unveiled as a new face to the Sheffield scene, last June.

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Yet he was unable to skate until a fortnight before training camp in September because of the rehabilitation needed for what is a complex injury.

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Last week, Hodgman attracted much kudos after revealing in The Star how he regularly has to fight his mental health demons, which at some points had led to suicidal thoughts.

But his battle to overcome a severe physical issue is not widely known.

There had been rumours last Summer that Hodgman was shaking off a knee issue. But the full extent can only now be disclosed.

"I actually fractured my knee cap in April and couldn't actually skate until two weeks before camp after a full summer of intense rehab," he said.

Hodgman and Sam Jones join the party.Hodgman and Sam Jones join the party.
Hodgman and Sam Jones join the party.
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"I was coaching a skills lesson and took what looked like an innocent fall, but landed right on my knee without any padding. The x-rays the next day showed it was a fractured patella.

"I was unable to put any pressure or bend my knee for roughly six weeks.

"After that, there was intense physical therapy two or three times a week to start gaining a range of motion and strength back.

"At one point, walking up the stairs was a triumph. There were setbacks in the recovery that had me wondering if I'd be able to play this season. Thankfully I was able to finally skate just before training camp.

Justin Hodgman: face off.Justin Hodgman: face off.
Justin Hodgman: face off.
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"I disclosed the injury (to Sheffield) before signing and my progress and expectation for return. They did their due diligence and trusted I'd be back. I sent scans and had my doctors available to talk to as well.

"The injury was obviously best kept quiet until we knew I'd be alright. It's a big triumph for me now.

"I've had no issues with it since and am extremely thankful to my physical therapists who helped me strengthen it to the point where I am able to compete at the level I am today, two or three times a week."

Hodgman's physical recovery is a major bonus to a player who, like team-mate Sam Jones, went public on how depression and anxiety can affect athletes, like anybody else.

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Steelers' assistant coach Carter Beston-Will said he was proud of both men for going public.

He said their stories would be "super helpful" to other people struggling with the same issue.

"I am very happy for them both. I think it is probably taken a weight off their shoulders getting it out. Hats off to both of them."

On Hodgman’s knee issue, Beston-Will said head coach Aaron Fox had carefully researched the Canadian before bringing him over.