In an honest interview with the Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski, Buffalo Sabres’ goaltender Carter Hutton revealed that his career-worst season was not merely due to bad luck or age. While Hutton did face a disproportionate amount of difficult scoring chances while in net for a struggling Sabres squad and at 34 is no longer as equipped to face such a challenge, a medical issue played a major role in his difficulties. Hutton tells Lysowski that he has been battling a vision disorder that has had a destructive impact on his ability.
Hutton has been diagnosed with a condition called convergence insufficiency. In short, Hutton’s eyes do not move at the same time. His left eye moves slower than his right, making for serious struggles with depth perception. As a result, tracking pucks and anticipating shots became extremely difficult. Hutton admits that even simple practice shots were often enough to fool him. Hutton sought treatment and has been working daily to improve his optical strength and visual reflexes in hopes of returning to form. Meanwhile, he was hiding his struggles away from the media as he did not want to be perceived as using the disorder as a crutch for his poor play.
Hutton posted a career-worst .898 save percentage and 3.18 GAA in 31 appearances this season. This included a 12-game stretch from October to November in which he did not record a win and allowed more than four goals per game. Hutton’s struggles were not the only reason that Buffalo also floundered yet again in 2019-20, but even a few wins in that 12-game stretch may have been enough to get the team into the upcoming expanded playoff field. Instead, Hutton and company have a long off-season ahead of them and will face questions next season. Hutton in particular – one season removed from starting 48 games for the Sabres and two seasons removed from posting the NHL’s top marks in save percentage and GAA as the backup for the St. Louis Blues – faces an uphill battle to return to form in a contract year.
Hutton deserves respect for battling this disorder that so greatly impacts his play without using it as an excuse and for continuing to work through treatment on a daily basis in hopes of extending his career. However, if these visual impairments continue despite his dedication to improvement, his playing days are almost certainly numbered.