Gravel battles disease in return to LA Kings

Defenseman from Kingsford has Crohn’s under control

AP Photo Kingsford’s Kevin Gravel, a defenseman with the National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings, skates against the Las Vegas Golden Knights during a late September preseason game in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LOS ANGELES — Over the summer, while the rest of his teammates were skating and building up their conditioning in advance of the upcoming season, Kingsford’s Kevin Gravel knew something wasn’t quite right with his body.

He was heading in the opposite direction: workouts had left him particularly drained and gutted, and he had lost much of his appetite.

Gravel gauged that he lost roughly 40 pounds at one point over the summer including a three-day stretch in which he estimated his weight dropped by 20 pounds.

During the end of his unchecked weight loss, he underwent tests and bloodwork, and, ultimately a colonoscopy, an MRI and a CT scan, and received an alarming but treatable diagnosis. He has Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease characterized by inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal tract. While it is treatable and manageable – even today, Gravel says that he feels “100 percent” – it can not be cured.

During this period, Gravel kept his wits and his attitude with him, and even this week in the Kings’ facility, retained a sense of humor about his ordeal. “How detailed do you guys want me to get?” he asked, smiling.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds, Gravel, whose recall from Ontario of the AHL was officially announced Wednesday, shared great personal detail about his health scare, which significantly affected his ability to condition himself for the 2017-18 season after having broken through with one goal and seven points in 49 games on Los Angeles’ back end one season ago.

“It’s a tough blow, but I had a lot of help, too,” Gravel said. “My girlfriend was a huge help for me this summer. My family – I have a lot of family around Minneapolis, and my mom and dad (Kathy and Jim) came down a couple times, so I had a ton of help.

“The medication worked great, the doctors were great, so I feel great now. It was just an unfortunate thing to deal with, but the big picture is there are a lot more issues I could’ve been hit with. At least this one’s able to be manageable and controlled. At the time, it was a tough thing to go through, but it’s all good now, and it could be worse. It could always be worse.

Gravel, a defenseman, was a healthy scratch from the lineup for Thursday’s overtime win against Colorado. The Kings play at San Jose tonight.

(Jon Rosen is with lakingsinsider.com. For the complete story, visit nhl.com/kings)

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