Like so many others who share his same passion, Ric Priere can say without hesitation that when you’re a hockey player, it’s a way of life. For those of us who have to run into the side of the rink to stop ourselves on a pair of ice skates, it darn near seems like magic. But for people like Ric, being away from the skating rink for any length of time took a toll on him – both physically and mentally.
Good enough to play Division 1 hockey in college up in Western Canada, he progressed from there to the American International League – playing until his early 30’s before moving to Las Vegas. Without an outlet for his hockey lifestyle, he began working in the casinos and eventually ended up gaining about 70 pounds. When an ice rink was built here in 1991, he was able to start skating and playing again for exercise – but it wasn’t long before his first knee injury occurred in the mid-90’s.
“When that happened, I began making the rounds of doctors – eventually having 4 arthroscopic surgeries in each knee,” Ric reveals. “By this point, everyone was telling me that I needed knee replacement, since the injuries resulted in severe arthritis, too. It was so bad that at my knees – my legs just turned out. I could actually snap my knees that way, they were so far out of alignment.”
In the hotels, Ric’s job working as a Production Manager for shows at Planet Hollywood required him to be on his feet all night – and that took a toll, as well. “At the end of the night, the security guys would be waiting in a golf cart to take me to my car. Otherwise, there’s no way I could have made it home,” he adds. He also has his own cargo delivery company to rural areas in Nevada. “That was tough, too – because just getting out of the truck, I would have to stand for at least a minute to get the blood moving and be able to take a single step. Everything just seemed to be going downhill rapidly.
“But of course, I had to keep skating! Not just because I love it, but because it’s always been my mode of exercise. By the early 2000’s, though, I got to the point that after just one hockey session, I wasn’t even able to walk for three or four days. So I knew I had to give up the skating – my knees were so bad I almost had to resort to a wheelchair. One doctor told me that after my knee replacement, I’d never be able to skate again – and the most activity I could pursue would be things like walking the dog. That was a tough time.”
And one thing that really weighed on Ric’s mind was how worried his kids were about him. “My son was afraid he’d never have the opportunity to skate with his dad. That was a ‘harsh reality’ I just wasn’t ready to accept.”
However, right about then, it seemed every time he turned around – someone else was telling him to go see Dr. Crovetti. “His name was coming up a lot as people realized the extent of the pain and problems I was having. And when one of my hockey friends – whose son worked with Dr. Crovetti – recommended him too, I knew it was time to make an appointment.
“I really connected with him right away,” Ric confirms. “He wasn’t like other doctors I had seen, and it was clear to me that he had not only the experience and knowledge about how to deal with my problem – but the most innovative and progressive approach, as well.”
Before long, they made arrangements to proceed with his total knee replacements – taking care of his right knee in January 2013, and his left knee the following month. And the entire process could not have gone smoother, explains Priere.
“First of all, the surgical and recovery suites were better than I could have imagined. The nurses were right there whenever you needed them, the food was amazing, and the suites were so comfortable and quiet I didn’t want to leave. I highly recommend everyone having their procedure done here!
“Dr. Crovetti got me into surgery really early on a Monday – and I was up and walking with a harness the same day. Then I was up and walked out to go home on Wednesday! After that, I tackled my recovery with the help of my Physical Therapist and a dogged determination to do everything I could to achieve maximum results. The post-surgery P.T. is critical,” he states. “And I was constantly on the CPM (continuous passive motion) machine, because I knew that would help to eliminate scar tissue, which is always a good thing.
After about 3 months, Dr. Crovetti said it was time for Ric to get back on the ice. “He told me yes, you can play hockey. Yes, you can play tennis. But no – you cannot run on the sand,” he remembers with a smile.
“My second surgery was in February and I was back playing hockey in May -feeling like I had never left! I was even able to play in the Senior Tournament. The best part, I think, is that I’m at 80-90% of being the skater I was when I was doing it professionally,” Ric marvels. “I keep up with the guys that are much younger than I am, and they can’t believe I’ve had both of my knees replaced. I just tell them, “Hey – the knees are new, guys!,” Priere laughs. “It’s really an incredible feeling.
“Dr. Crovetti told me the rule of thumb after knee replacement is that after 365 days, you’ll basically forget that you had the surgery done at all because the recovery is so complete. He wasn’t kidding, either – because almost to the day, I realized that had indeed been the case.
“Now, I’m out water- and snow-skiing, doing things with my kids and yep – even walking the dog. Every time Dr. Crovetti sees me, he’s got a huge smile on his face, and so do I. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. So far, I’ve sent 9 hockey players to see him, and a number of friends who live out of state have come to Las Vegas to have Dr. Crovetti do their surgery – and they’ve all had excellent results.
“In fact, just recently, my son had his knee surgery with Dr. Crovetti – and you know that would never happen unless I trusted him 100%! So I’ll happily share my story with anyone who asks, because I’ve got my life back now in so many ways, and he’s the one who helped me get it.”