May 12, 2011, 4:37 PM EST
While I highly doubt* that he has any chance to return for the playoffs, Vancouver Canucks center Manny Malhotra skated with the team and on his own today. (This link contains brief video footage of Malhotra skating.)
In case you’re wondering, the Canucks lost Malhotra for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs when he was struck in the eye by a puck. The fact that he was skating today doesn’t change that, but it could be a heartening (yet small) step forward in his recovery process.
The Canucks found a way to get to the Western Conference finals without their excellent penalty-killing depth center, but his presence might be missed the most in Round 3. Whether Vancouver’s opponent is the Detroit Red Wings or San Jose Sharks, the team’s penalty kill will be pushed to the limit in either situation. The Red Wings and Sharks are also strong squads in the faceoff circle, another area of dominance for Malhotra. (That being said, Ryan Kesler isn’t far behind Malhotra in faceoff winning skills, so they probably won’t get killed in that category either.)
Here are Canucks GM Mike Gillis’ comments on Malhotra’s comeback prospects and the team’s expectations, via Ben Kuzuma of the Vancouver Province.
“I have no answer for that question,” said Canucks general manager Mike Gillis. “Today was about taking the next step in his recovery and he wanted to do some light skating,” said Gillis. “This is just a small step in his recovery. There is no timetable and there’s no schedule with an injury like this. He’s at this point because everything seems to be stable and it’s just another step. We’ve never asked and we’ve never been given a timeline.
“It’s about how he’s recovering. It’s basically day-by-day, week-by-week and month-by-month. We’re optimistic and just holding our breath about his ability to continue to recover. His recovery is the paramount thing and we’ll make decisions along the way and it never entered into our minds about playing, this is about his health. We’re just going to let the process take whatever time it requires.”
No doubt about it, Malhotra is far from ready to return and might not ever have the necessary range of vision to return to NHL competition.
The two most prominent examples of somewhat similar eye injuries happened to Detroit Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman and journeyman offensive defenseman Bryan Berard. Yzerman retired after suffering an eye injury while Berard’s promising young career was greatly altered when Marian Hossa‘s stick accidentally caught him in the eye. Berard improbably played parts of six seasons after that injury, but he never regained the form that made him the first overall pick of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft and the 1996-97 Calder Trophy winner.
It’s possible Malhotra’s career hasn’t turned out the way some expected when he was the No. 7 overall pick of the ’98 draft, but he found a way to make himself an extremely useful NHL player. It would be a real shame to see his career cut short at age 31, but we’ll have to wait and see if he can make a comeback.
Today’s practice was the heartening first step.
* Make that “highly, highly, highly” doubt it.
Mar 8, 2014, 6:16 PM EST
Craig Anderson made 46 saves on Saturday.
Mar 8, 2014, 5:45 PM EST
Making a strong first impression in St. Louis.
Mar 8, 2014, 4:55 PM EST
Petr Mrazek will backup Jimmy Howard.
Mar 8, 2014, 4:28 PM EST
The Leafs have called up Frazer McLaren.
Mar 8, 2014, 3:49 PM EST
She had a 0.96 GAA and .954 save percentage in the Olympics.
Mar 8, 2014, 3:21 PM EST
He suffered the injury last Saturday.
Mar 8, 2014, 2:42 PM EST
He might not be ready for the start of the playoffs either, should Columbus get that far.
Mar 8, 2014, 1:58 PM EST
Guess who holds that record?
Mar 8, 2014, 1:16 PM EST
The Capitals drafted him in 2010, but he’s been playing in the KHL.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:58 PM EST
It will be his first start with Washington.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:15 PM EST
They were key players in Finland’s bronze medal run in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Mar 8, 2014, 11:32 AM EST
The Lightning are trying to get out of a rut just days after trading Martin St. Louis.
Mar 8, 2014, 10:40 AM EST
He’s open to continuing his career as a backup goaltender.
Mar 8, 2014, 9:51 AM EST
Ottawa has been underwhelming this season.
Mar 8, 2014, 9:03 AM EST
He hasn’t taken a penalty yet this season.
Mar 8, 2014, 2:05 AM EST
Marc-Andre Fleury was busy in this one.
Mar 8, 2014, 1:11 AM EST
On a special night for one of the franchise’s greats.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:24 AM EST
This is just…sick. But awesome, too.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:05 AM EST
Played nine seasons in Calgary.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:19 PM EST
Last shift came late in first period.
- Ryan Murray has knee surgery, likely done for season 1
- Washington finally signs top prospect Kuznetsov 31
- Roberto Luongo records the shutout in first game back with Panthers 29
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack 63
- Canucks’ Kassian gets three games for boarding Dillon 27
- TGIF: Why Lightning fans can be upset with St. Louis 32
- Goalie nods: Luongo’s first game back with Panthers, Neuvirth makes Sabres debut 14
- Report: Kuznetsov terminated KHL deal, headed to Washington 21
- Canucks’ Bieksa: ‘If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is’ 34
- Luongo has Twitter fun at Canucks’ expense 37
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Report: Canucks want center, top prospect and first-rounder for Kesler (68)
- Sabres announce Pat LaFontaine resigns as president of hockey operations (66)