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Sharks find a gem in team doctor

by Jeremy Lemoine || AHL On The Beat

Before their inaugural season even began, the Worcester Sharks found themselves a gem – literally.

On Sept. 13, 2006, the Worcester Sharks announced a partnership with Saint Vincent Hospital where Dr. Bill Morgan would lead the medical team for the Sharks players.

For those unfamiliar with Dr. Morgan, he was the brains behind Curt Schilling’s bloody sock in the 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series run. Morgan performed a type of surgery on Schilling’s ailing right ankle that was unprecedented in the sports field.

After numerous attempts to stabilize a loose tendon within the ankle, Dr. Morgan sutured the tendon away from the bone to keep Schilling from agonizing pain. This procedure led to a famous bloody sock while Schilling pitched “lights-out baseball” and led the Red Sox to their first World Series pennant in 86 years.

Morgan proudly flaunts his gigantic World Series ring every day on his right ring finger.

These days, you can find Morgan pacing the halls of the DCU Center and right behind the bench during a Worcester Sharks hockey game. Morgan and his staff, Dr. John Stevenson and Dr. Bill Balcom, provide the players with a strong sense of security knowing that their health and physical well-being is in good hands.

“It’s certainly a bit different to take care of a professional hockey player than a professional baseball player,” said Morgan. “With baseball, the players get a little hamstring pull and they are out. With hockey players, they get half their face ripped off and all they want us to do is put it back together quickly so they can get back on the ice.

“That’s to a man, which is impressive,” he added.

According to Morgan though, there isn’t much of a difference when dealing with professional athletes in the minors or the majors. Even when dealing with a Curt Schilling as opposed to a Riley Armstrong or Dan Spang.

“The hockey players in Worcester are just younger,” he said matter-of-factly. “Some day those guys will end up in the NHL and become a big name. Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling used to be those guys. So in that regard, it’s really no different. I’m just dealing with younger athletes.”

Morgan freely admits that this season has been different, but fun for him when dealing with the young Worcester Sharks. The younger athletes have more to learn and that in return makes Morgan field more questions. And actually, feel like a father figure at times.

“I guess it just shows my age,” he said with a smile.

In addition to making sure the Worcester Sharks stay healthy, Dr. Morgan has been busy across the street from the DCU Center at Saint Vincent Hospital. A little less than a year ago, Morgan left St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston to undertake a new challenge. Saint Vincent Hospital has developed a new Center of Excellence for Muscular Skeletal Medicine.

Dr. Morgan and his 20 years of experience have been tasked with developing this new department. The unique program is taking a less narrowed approach in that it will not be just orthopedic surgeons. Acupuncture and massage therapy are just a few of the different treatments to provide their patients.

“It’s our job to make patients feel better,” said Dr. Morgan. “This program has an exciting vision, in that if its works and it’s safe, we’ll do it.”

And as for that enormous ring on Dr. Morgan’s right finger, he and the Worcester Sharks wouldn’t mind a Calder Cup gem for the other hand.