When last we saw Lubomir Visnovsky, the 39-year-old defenseman and the Islanders' former "Silver Fox," was being cut by the Chicago Blackhawks, with whom he had signed a pre-training camp professional tryout contract.
But as of today, Visnovsky has signed a one-year deal with HC Slovan Bratislava of the KHL, returning to his hometown team to get one last kick at a championship before he retires.
At a press conference (aided by the requisite grains of Google Translated salt), Visnovsky talked about the health problems he couldn't overcome during his preseason games with Chicago and his plans for his post-playing days.
Via Sport.sk (and a stick tap to Puck Daddy's Sean Leahy for RTing earlier today):
"I made a deal with Slovan Bratislava on appearances this season. I have health problems, I do not know how much my health lasts. Even Slovan it comes to risk. I am glad that M. Krajči allow me," he Ľubomír Višňovský [said in] his Tuesday's press conference.
He admitted that after returning to Chicago was first on ice until Monday and not a hundred percent physically okay, "I have back problems. You do not risk anything, I hope I can do it, I even consulted a doctor."
We speculated that the Islanders' reluctance to bring Visnovsky back this season might have been a result of the multiple concussions he has suffered in his career, including the one induced by the Capitals' Tom Wilson in last season's playoffs. But it sounds like his back, which limited him last season also, is the real issue and hampered him in his tryout. The Islanders signed the healthier but less electric Marek Zidlicky to replace Visnovsky on their third pair and power play.
Making Visnovsky's injuries even more tragic is the timing of them. His former defense partner Thomas Hickey is lost for a month with a leg injury, and some of us were hoping (futility) for Lubo to make a triumphant return in a temp role. And with the Blackhawks having placed Duncan Keith on longterm injured reserve after knee surgery, they're probably wishing the tryout could have worked out a little better.
Slovan Bratislava, located in Visnovsky's home country of Slovakia, is where Visnovsky played prior to coming over to the NHL, as well as during the 2005 and 2012 lockouts. The roster currently sports a couple of former NHLers including Ladislav Nagy, mentioned in the article, Cam Barker and Louis Leblanc, who was an Islander, like, a week ago before having his contract was terminated.
Sadly, it looks like Slovan might be the last stop for the effervescent and exciting Visnovsky. But the team and the town sound ready to honor him for being the special player that he is.
"When I played in Slovan last time I had a beautiful feeling, very good I here felt I wanted you finish the season. Now I want these beautiful sensations to experience again," said Ľubomír Višňovský, who seems in the jersey of Slovan retire and say goodbye to Bratislava's wishes before a sold-out audience. "I think this is my last year," he added.