Ducks update: Hiller's long road of recovery
A scrimmage, of course, is not a preseason game. And a preseason game does not come close to the intensity of the regular season.
But the Ducks' Jonas Hiller had to start somewhere, and Monday’s intrasquad scrimmage at Honda Center in Anaheim represented something of a small step, a fresh start for the talented goaltender.
Hiller’s vertigo-like symptoms forced him to miss most of the second half of last season, putting his career in limbo. The problems faded, finally, in the summer when he returned home to his native Switzerland.
He didn’t face a lot of action in Monday’s scrimmage but the early verdict was that he “felt pretty good.”
“Not every day feels exactly the same but that was also like that before,” Hiller said. “I’m pretty happy the way it goes right now and I’m looking forward to playing the first games. You have better days and worse days no matter what, no matter how you feel.
“I don’t worry too much about it. . . . At the end, overall, I’m feeling well out there.”
Time, distance and being away from the rink helped Hiller once he eventually resumed practicing with the Swiss club team FC Bern in August.
“Starting back on the ice, I already felt way better than when I skated last time here in Anaheim,” he said. “It definitely gave me confidence. I felt better day by day till I had to say, ‘I’m feeling right and it feels good.’”
Talking about how he was feeling -- or not feeling -- got to be tiresome for the accommodating Hiller.
“At the beginning, it was kind of tough for me, too, because I felt I always had to explain to everybody exactly how I feel and everything,” Hiller said. “It had gotten better for me when I finally kind of accepted that I wouldn’t be back from today till tomorrow.
“It was going to take more time. It was definitely a tough situation, but I felt like the guys were supportive. They were interested in how I feel and wanted me to be back.”
Photo: Ducks goalkeeper Jonas Hiller warms up for practice last season. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times