I asked him if he’s getting closer, for openers:
“Honestly, I can’t answer that truthfully right now because I don’t really know. I felt pretty good out there today, I’ll tell you that. I’ll come here in the morning and see how it feels and try and create a timeline from there. It’s one of those situations where it didn’t hurt to skate, and we went pretty good today, pretty hard before practice and during, so if there’s a time it’s going to get sore I think it will be tomorrow. If not, it’s just a matter of conditioning, I guess, or just being ready to roll. So we’ll see how it goes. It felt good today, though.”
Asked directly about tomorrow:
“I’m not going to rule anything out, I’ll tell you that much. Like I said, I don’t want to put a timeline on myself. If I wake up and feel great tomorrow, then you never know what could happen. We’ll just wait to see how it feels. … I feel like I’ve given it some time to heal. The Doc came in and said that he saw some signs of healing. All good things.”
This was his first skate.
“I haven’t been out that long. I’ve done some stuff off the ice and … these guys have been off the ice for five days, most of them, and so, it wasn’t like I was trying to jump back in right in the middle of a back-to-back situation. These guys have had a little time off to accumulate a little bit of rust (laughs) so it might actually be a good time to jump right back in and brush the rust off with them.”
Said he wore a blue shirt early in practice and was told to put the orange no-contact shirt on.
“It was just kind of ‘Go into the break and rest’ and see how it felt. I didn’t know how I’d feel without skating, and it felt good today skating on it. And shooting felt good.”
Today was his first skate, too.
“It was a long six weeks, now seven weeks with the all-star break. But I’m excited to be back and excited to not be bag(skating) with Sully anymore. I’ve gone through that. I had a good practice today, felt good out there. We did a little bit of scrimmaging, which I thought was me to experience a little bit of battling. The hand felt good and my conditioning felt good, too. So I’m excited to get into the lineup tomorrow.”
“I’ve got full strength (in the hand). It’s 100 percent, and I think I can shoot it as hard—not that I have the hardest shot to begin with—but all my strength’s there and it feels good.”
Will wear the extra padding on the glove, and some tape on the hand and wrist.
“I’m just going to go out there and approach it like every other game that I approach, and try to do what I do and create energy, throw my body around, and try to create some opportunities. You’ve got to try to not do too much, but at the same time, if you just stay focused and prepare like you do for every other game I’ll be fine.”
Skated every day at the practice rink over the break, working on conditioning and building strength in the hand.
“Frustrating. It’s tough. I watch it but I definitely get frustrated when you see the guys out there battling and you can’t do anything to help them. But it is what it is, it’s part of the game. Injuries happen.I tried to prepare myself mentally to come back and not get too distracted by things around me, and try to stay focused on my game when I come back.”
Jokingly asked if he was ticked that the team did fine without him:
“No, it made me pretty happy. It was good. It was really good.”
“This is the third time I’ve been on the ice. I was sucking some wind a little bit. But other than that I felt OK. My hands are a little off. Everything’s a little off. That’s just because I haven’t played in a couple of weeks.”
”(I’m) day by day. I have a date in mind, but as of right now we’ll say it’s day by day.”
I asked him if that date is tomorrow, and he said, “No. No. It’s not tomorrow. I won’t be playing tomorrow.”
“Right on schedule. In two days it’s five weeks. So we’re right on where I could be coming back.”
Skated Thursday and Friday, worked out Saturday, practiced today.
“I’m not sore, and I was bag-skating before practice today with (Mike Sullivan) and Dubi. … There’s no other way to do it. I’ve been riding the bike hard the last two weeks and you can only do so much of that. There’s no better way to get in shape than just to get skated hard. It really is not a whole lot of fun, but it is the best way.”
“I’m still a ways away in my conditioning, I’ll tell you that. A lot of hard work away. I need to be skated pretty good here the next couple of days, because these guys are in shape and I don’t like lagging behind and feel like I’m out of place. I definitely don’t want to feel like that, especially because the team, considering all our absent guys, been playing pretty well and picking up points. So you want to make sure you come in and you’re ready and ready to contribute.”