Tampa Bay Lightning F Mattias Ritola's inner ear problem is Meniere's Disease
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mattias Ritola knows he will be able to play tonight against the Bruins because, as of the morning skate, he had not heard the ringing in his ears or felt dizzy. Ritola has something called Meniere's Disease that, basically, is caused by a build-up of fluids in the inner ear, which controls a person's balance.
"I know when it's coming," Ritola said. "I can feel when it's coming and it's not here today."
Ritola said he doesn't experience the symptoms every day. "Maybe once or twice a week," he said. Ritola also said he pretty much knows early in the day whether he is going to have an attack. For instance, he said he woke up before Tuesday's game in Toronto and immediately knew he could not play. But the signs are not always immediately show up.
"It's unbelievable," Ritola said. "You can wake up and you don't know if you can play or not. That's the worst part. You don't even know if you can practice. It's been really frustrating."
The National Institute of Health says no clear cause for the Meniere's Disease has been found. One possibility is a constriction in blood vessels similar to what causes migraine headaches. Others are a virus, an allergy, an autoimmune reaction, or it is genetic. The good news, Ritola said, is doctors have told him it will go away, and head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan said Ritola is on several medications to try to "minimize" the disease's impact.
"They're trying to do everything they can right now," Ritola said. "Hopefully, they figure it out."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Is defenseman Matt Smaby cursed? We kid, of course. But consider he has played only three games since Oct. 30 because of a badly sprained right ankle caused by playing soccer with teammates before that night's game with t he Coyotes. And consider that at today's morning skate he took a shot off that foot that was painful enough for him to have to skate it off for a while. Smaby seemed okay in the locker room afterward and said he is ready to resume playing. But he joked he is a "magnet" for injuries, and added, "I scream injuries wherever I go" ... Defenseman Mattias Ohlund has not scored in 86 games, going back to April 7, 2009, when he played for the Canucks against the Flames. Defenseman Pavel Kubina has not scored in 22 games, going back to Oct. 14 against the Flyers. Both players said they are not worried about their offense, and coach Guy Boucher said considering Ohlund gets very little power play time and Kubina no longer plays with the No. 1 unit, it is not surprising or bothersome. Ohlund, who has one assist, agrees. "I'm happy with the role I have, a whether I'm scoring goals or not doesn't bother me one bit," he said. "I'm happy with the way I'm playing." Kubina, with a goal and six points, admitted "the numbers offensively could be better," especially considering when he was signed much was made of the offense he would bring, and Kubina had 40, 40 and 38 points his past three seasons. "I have to help the team more offensively, for sure," Kubina said. "But we've been playing good hockey and we're a playoff team, and that's what's keeping me happy. That's what I'm worried about." ... Defenseman Randy Jones was part of an unfortunate incident in October 2007, when his hit from behind into the boards on Bruins center Patrice Bergeron resulted in a broken nose and a career-threatening concussion. Jones said the two have not spoken since the incident that put Bergeron out of the lineup for the season. "I tried to call him after it happened a few days later," said Jones, who played for the Flyers at the time. "I was able to get his number and left a voice mail and told him it wasn't my intention and wished him well and it was very unfortunate and the last thing I wanted to see was for him to miss the year. Right now, I'm glad he's back and a big part of that team and will be for a lot of years to come." Jones said Bergeron never called him back. "I told him if he didn't want to call me I would completely understand," Jones said. "There's no hard feelings on my side that he didn't call back. I tried but he just wasn't comfortable." Jones said it took him about a month after the incident to be completely comfortable hitting someone along the boards. "I'd be lying to you if I said my game didn't change a bit," he said. "You're a little more cautious. You go into corners and it's always in the back of your head. You're a little hesitant. You wan to make sure he's in a position to receive a check." ... Please make a note, the Dec. 11 game at Vancouver has been changed to 10:30 p.m. The change was made to accommodate the broadcast of the retirement ceremony of Markus Naslund.