GLENDALE, Ariz. Steve Sullivan may never match Ray Whitneys production for the Coyotes, but anything close would be remarkable given how close the 38-year-old wingers career came to ending just five years ago.
Sullivan couldnt walk upright for the entire 2007-08 NHL season. Chronic back issues had him listing to the left like a wounded battleship.
He had already missed the latter third of Nashvilles 2006-07 season, but two subsequent surgeries, two lengthy rehab stints with Shaquille ONeals physical therapist and multiple medical consultations couldnt alleviate a diagnosed disc issue. Neither could the nearly 30 pounds he gained from inactivity, big meals and lots of red wine.
The food was great, Sullivan said, laughing. But I couldnt do anything without it seizing up again. It was a long road with a lot of dark days.
To pass the time, Sullivan did TV segments for the team while the sad thought of retirement began to fester. Between periods of one game, he ran into Predators t...