Peter Mueller’s Head, Fans’ Hearts

On every team there are those players for whom fans love to root. Often times they are the fighters or tough guys on the ice. They are the ones most involved in the community. They are the ones who show a commitment to the organization or are hometown heroes.

Peter Mueller is none of these things, but every Avalanche fan is rooting for this guy. Avs’ fans love Cody McCleod, have a new fan favorite in Shane O’Brien and will never lose a place in their hearts for Ian Laperriere and Adam Foote. But Peter Mueller is a completely different story, one that deals with the NHL’s biggest problem: concussions.

Peter Mueller was a breakout player for the Phoenix Coyotes in his rookie season. In 2007-2008, he played 81 games and notched 56 points. From there he had two less productive seasons in Phoenix before being traded to the Avalanche at the end of the 2010 season. Mueller suffered his first concussion in his stretch with Phoenix.

On arriving in Colorado, Mueller scored 20 points, nine of them goals, in just 15 games. He was a big reason that a young Avalanche team made the playoffs. Unfortunately, San Jose Shark Rob Blake laid him out along the boards with a hit to the head on April 4th, 2010, a game in which Mueller also scored. Because of this he would miss the playoffs.

In the 2010 training camp, Mueller seemed ready to continue his surge with the Avalanche. All of his post-concussion problems were in check and he had a strong training camp. Mueller even had a special helmet designed to lessen blows to the head and avoid future concussions.

Unfortunately, in the Avalanche’s first preseason game last year, Mueller was hit in the head and suffered his third concussion. The special helmet did not feel comfortable on the winger and so he chose not to wear it. It is a decision I am sure he would like to take back, as it cost him all of the 2010-2011 season.

Last fall, Mueller once again returned to the Avalanche’s lineup. He played in three games and could barely make it up and down the ice. It was then that he suffered from post-concussion symptoms and had to leave the Avalanche again, this time with his career in serious jeopardy.

Mueller returned six games ago with a tinted visor, better shoulder pads, a protective helmet and another chance. Mueller has scored three goals and notched 25 shots, leading the team in shots per game. He looks to be back to stay in the NHL and fans could not be happier for the guy. He seems to be giving everything on the ice because he knows better than anyone that each game could be his last.

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