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Buffalo’s Gerbe not cleared for contact, could start season on IR

Jan 15, 2013, 12:33 PM EDT

Nathan Gerbe Getty Images

The Buffalo Sabres will likely be without one of their speediest forwards to start the year.

Nathan Gerbe — the diminutive 5-foot-5 winger — hasn’t been cleared for contact after undergoing neck/back surgery, and could begin the season on injured reserve.

Here’s more, from the Buffalo News:

After taking a hit from behind into the boards in December 2011 from Philadelphia’s Marc-Andre Bourdon, the short-term impact for Gerbe was a concussion. As it turns out, things got much worse.

Gerbe dealt with neck and back issues that never improved, and it was discovered he had disc damage in his back. He had surgery July 24 — the day he turned 25 — and it was done by Dr. Andrew Cappuccino, the orthopedic surgeon who treated former Bills tight end Kevin Everett for his catastrophic spine injury suffered in 2007.

“Very scary,” he said. “That was the first time I’ve ever had surgery. First surgery I’ve ever had was on my spine, so I was pretty nervous about it. You don’t know how you’re body is going to be. Everyone involved has done a great job keeping me intact and pushing me along. When you’re messing around with your spine and nerves, anything can go wrong.”

Gerbe has been skating for a while on his own and only joined his teammates this week. He’s hoping to returning to the form of his breakout 2010-11 campaign, when he scored 16G-15A-31PTS in 64 games.

“I need to be comfortable and confident that I can turn and I can go hit guys,” he explained. “It’s hard to say that now. I just got to see how the week goes and how my body reacts.”

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