Jay DeMerit is not willing to play the blame game as he begins his long recovery from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The Vancouver Whitecaps captain made it clear Saturday he does not fault the team’s medical staff for allowing him to play after he had been bothered by Achilles tendonitis in the pre-season. DeMerit also stressed that he was not pressured into playing by the coaches or management.
“If anyone put pressure on, it was me,” said DeMerit before the Whitecaps defeated the Columbus Crew 2-1 at B.C. Place Stadium.
“I take some blame here, too, as far as me trying to push to play. Sometimes, trying to push and try to be tough and trying to be that person that I am, can hurt you in the long run.
“I’m not sure if it did. I really don’t think anything would have been different if I had to do it all over again.”
DeMerit was injured early in Vancouver’s season-opening 1-0 win over Toronto FC on March 3 as he went up for a header. The injury occurred on the jump up, and he knew right away that it was serious.
It resulted after he had missed a considerable amount of pre-season action because of what was diagnosed as tendonitis. The tendon, he added, showed no signs of rupturing beforehand.
“A lot of people have known about this injury for quite some time,” he said, sporting a cast.
“I was dealing with it for almost a month before the actual rupturing happened. From that standpoint, it was something that we were monitoring closely. ...
“Now that this has happened, unfortunately, we ask questions. We ask hard questions of ourselves. I ask hard questions of the medical staff, and they beat themselves up about it.
“The one thing I know is, I trust our medical staff. I know that, no matter what, I come first.”
DeMerit was diagnosed with tendonitis after he had an adverse reaction to prolotherapy injections during the pre-season. The tendon never recovered the same way his groin and ankle had after receiving previous injections in those areas.
The 33-year-old Green Bay, Wisc., native thought he would just have to play through the tendonitis.
“I’ve dealt with a lot worse in my life and my career, and it was something I was willing to do — and the team was willing to let me do,” he said.
Now, the Whitecaps captain is focusing on recovery as he faces a rehabilitation period of six to eight months. The tendon was cut clean through, minimizing scar tissue and offering a chance at a shorter recovery period.
In keeping with his personality, he will try to speed up the recovery period as much as possible. As he recovers, the team will look to fill the leadership void.
Kenny Miller wore the captain’s armband Saturday, and coach Martin Rennie plans to rotate it among select players. DeMerit said his hiatus gives more players, old and young alike, to display more leadership.
DeMerit expects to resume physical training in two months. The first week of recovery was “relatively easy” because his parents happened to be in town and could take him where he needed to go and get him necessities.
He has also had considerable help from his fiancee Ashleigh McIvor, the retired Canadian Olympic freestyle skier who the first Olympic ski cross gold medal at the 2010 Winter Games.
“She’s definitely been a good nurse — that’s for sure,” said DeMerit.
McIvor can provide emotional support based on first-hand experience. During her career, she battled knee and shoulder injuries that sidelined her for extended periods.
“She’s gone through a lot more of it than I have. She’s also good to have as a support system.”
In return, DeMerit expects to assist more in the preparations for their August wedding.
“I’m now a full-time wedding planner,” he said.