Tim Bozon looked thin and spoke briefly, his voice hoarse after weeks of using a feeding tube.
The Montreal Canadiens prospect was released from a Saskatoon hospital Friday, four weeks after falling seriously ill with bacterial meningitis.
“I’m doing good,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot and I feel way better now.”
Bozon and his family will travel to Cranbrook, where he will drop the puck at a playoff game of his Western Hockey League team, the Kootenay Ice.
“I’m excited to leave the hospital,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting to get back to Kootenay and see the boys and say bye one more time before going back to Europe.”
Father Philippe Bozon, who played in the NHL for the St. Louis Blues in the 1990s, was visibly emotional and thanked the Saskatoon and broader hockey community for their generosity and support.
He added treatment has been costly, and encouraged the public to donate to a trust fund established to help pay the family’s medical and other expenses
“I want to say from my wife and I how proud we are of you Timmy, for fighting like this,” he said. “I know it was a tough fight and I know you are still fighting, and I will always have faith in you.”
After travelling to Cranbrook to collect Bozon’s things, the family will go to Montreal to visit the Canadiens organization. While there Bozon will also see doctors and receive some dental surgery.
From there the family will return to France, where Bozon will enter a sports rehabilitation clinic in the southwestern town of Capbreton.
Neurologist Gary Hunter treated Bozon from the day he arrived at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital, and said prompt medical attention and an induced coma were critical to his recovery.
“His progress has been really amazing, so I think his prognosis is very good,” he said. “He’s a tough guy and he’s very motivated so I think he’s going to do very well.”
Hunter said it’s had to know at this early stage whether he will be able to resume his hockey career.
“It’s very difficult to speculate on his long term neurologic prognosis,” he said.
Bozon’s agent Roly Thompson said he is amazed at Bozon’s speedy progress, which gives him hope that a full recovery is possible.
“Obviously we have a long way to go,” he said. “We’re going to go through rehab and I think it’s important that everybody realize it’s not going to be instant.”
“But my gut feeling is that he’s going to play one day for the Montreal Canadiens.”