November 25, 2015
Jeff Libby was a 6'3" 215lb defense prospect with the New York Islanders. He appeared in only 1 NHL game and was in just his second professional season when tragedy struck.
Libby was playing with the AHL's Lowell Lock Monsters when he had his right eyeball sliced by a skate. The accident happen against the St. John's Maple Leafs. The incident occurred when St. John's player Mark Deyell, skating for the puck, was knocked off balance by a check. His leg swung behind his body and struck Libby, who was leaning forward to play the puck.
Despite taking all precautions, doctors were forced to remove the eye. Dr. Frank Sutula, the ophthalmologist who performed the 90 minute enucleation, said Libby will make a full recovery.
"The procedure went as well as could be expected," he said. "This is just the first step in a multistage process. He will need more surgery in the future. However, since Jeff is such a superb, healthy athlete, we expect him to do well."
Libby wasn't wearing a protective visor.
Libby, born in Waterville Maine, became a standout defenseman at the University of Maine for 3 seasons. He signed as a free agent with the New York Islanders on May 12, 1997.
He spent most of his rookie season in 1997-98 playing for the Utah Grizzlies of the IHL, getting one goal and five assists in 47 games. He also appeared in his only NHL game that season. He had only appeared in 5 games in the 1998-99 season after an impressive training camp with the Islanders.
"We're looking forward to getting past this stage and help Jeff with the next steps in his life. Our family would like to thank the fans, players, management and staffs of the New York Islanders and Lowell Lock Monsters, whose support was tremendous over the last week. We would also like to mention the wonderful people of St. John's, Newfoundland. The community was so good to our family when we first came to visit our son." said Jeff's father, Bill.