Carney’s Injury Forces Retirement from Michigan State Hockey

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EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State hockey player Branden Carney (Battle Creek, Mich.) has come to a decision to end his Michigan State hockey playing career on the advice of medical professionals. Carney’s doctors have determined that it is not in the defenseman’s best interest to participate in a contact/collision sport as he continues to recover from a severe neck injury.

Carney fractured his C1 and C2 vertebrae during hockey practice at Munn Ice Arena on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011. He was participating in drills during the Spartans’ practice session when he went head-first into the dasher boards. He was transported to Sparrow Hospital for treatment, and Carney was immediately (and has continued for the last 13 months) under the care of Neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Bill.

“Obviously, getting that final word that I cannot play again was difficult,” said Carney. “I’ve had some time to think about it since my appointment, and it’s been a blessing that I have been able to be able to play the game that I love for as long as I did.

“I have to thank the medical staff at MSU – particularly Dr. Robert Norris and Athletic Trainer Dave Carrier – as well as the emergency response staff who were among the first on the scene. Dr. Bill has been overseeing my care from the minute I arrived at Sparrow Hospital, and everyone there was wonderful to me and my family in a time filled with anxiety. I know that I received the absolute best care possible throughout this situation.

“I have received unbelievable support from everyone in the hockey program and throughout the University,” continued Carney. “My teammates have been amazing – from coming to the hospital the day of the accident to each and every one of them reaching out to me on Thursday after I learned the news. The staff has been there for me every single step of the way, genuinely concerned about my well-being. A big thank you has to go out to Coaches Anastos, Miller, Newton, and Gilmore, as well as everyone in the program, for the support they have provided me over the last 13 months.”

“Our program has been committed to support Branden and his family as he has gone through the recovery process,” said MSU head coach Tom Anastos. “This news is obviously a disappointment to all of us. However, in the big picture, Branden will, as I understand it, lead a full life in which he can participate in normal, everyday activities, as well as participate in non-contact recreational sports. Many people who have sustained a similar injury have not been as fortunate to experience such a recovery, so in spite of the disappointing news that Branden’s playing career is over, we’re thrilled that Branden has made such a remarkable recovery.

Branden is a part of this program and the Michigan State hockey family, and this medical decision will not change that. Branden is a Spartan, and we will discuss over the coming weeks what his role will be with our program day-to-day going forward.”