Before the owners decided to shutter the NHL with their lockout of the players, several prominent players figured to miss a big chunk of the season while recovering from injuries.
The league’s shutdown gave them time for heal. As a result, several teams won’t have to play a big chunk of the season without a key player after all.
Here are some examples:
Marian Gaborik, W, Rangers: Surgical repairs of a torn shoulder labrum left him looking at a six-month recovery period. Original projections had him sitting out until mid-November. But he was able to rejoin his teammates for unofficial practice sessions this fall. He wasn’t cleared for full contact, but he was able to skate, stickhandle the puck and shoot.
The league’s inactivity gave him an opportunity to strengthen the shoulder with off-ice work in Slovakia and New York. The New York Daily News reported that Gaborik would be back to full strength should the NHL resume operation with early January training camps.
Taylor Hall, W, Oilers: While recovering from a concussion last season, he underwent shoulder surgery as well. Both issues figured to carry into this regular season. Instead, Hall gained additional recovery time and then joined the Oklahoma City Barons to work back into shape.
“I worked so hard this summer, just to get my shoulder to where it's at it,” Hall told reporters. “To finally get into a game and prove myself is really exciting.” Hall scored eight goals and added 15 assists in his first 19 games for that team, joining follow Edmonton youngsters Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Jonathan Quick, GT, Kings: His recovery from minor back surgery would have dragged into the start of the season . . . if only the season started. Instead, he had an opportunity to rehab the injury while working out with LA’s American Hockey League affiliate.
Marian Hossa, W, Blackhawks: Would his recovery from post-concussion syndrome carried into the season? It appeared so, despite his progress over the summer. The lockout afforded him additional months of recovery time. In fact, he began pondering his options in Europe earlier this month.
Nathan Horton, W, Bruins: A pair of concussions during a six-month period left his status uncertain for this season. Boston’s management team believed he would be ready to go, but concussion recoveries are difficult to predict. He, too, gained additional months of recovery time.
Alexander Edler, D, Canucks: He collected about a third of his salary for this season while recovering from a bulging disc in his back. Medical clearance for him to resume playing knocked him off the Vancouver payroll. While his back may never be 100 percent healthy, he should be able to manage the condition once the NHL resumes playing.
Andrej Meszaros, D, Flyers: He seemed likely to miss up to half of the season after suffering a tear in his right Achilles tendon in August. But CSNPhilly.com reported that he is back skating in full gear.
Ryan Kesler, C, Canucks: He could have missed half of this season while recovering from shoulder and wrist repairs. Now he could play most of a 48-game season if, in fact, the NHL returns to work.
“The rehab for his shoulder was complicated by the surgery that happened with his wrist and it has impacted his ability to build strength in his shoulder,” assistant Canucks general manager Laurence Gilman told the Vancouver Province. “It's a gradual process and he's improving every day. We assume he'll be healthy in due course but when that's going to be, at this stage that's not clear.”
Derek Roy, C, Stars: Not long after Dallas acquired him, Roy underwent shoulder repairs that would have cost him a chunk of this season. The down time has allowed him to recover without rushing back. Finally he was able to join the AHL’s Texas Stars for workouts.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for me on a lot of levels,” Roy said. “First, I get to test the shoulder and get to push my workouts. Second, I get to see some of the guys who I might be playing with up here and get to know them a little better.”
Nikolai Khabibulin, GT, Oilers: He spent the lockout rehabilitating offseason groin/hip repairs – and collecting his paycheck as player injured before the shutdown. “I've been back basically in Edmonton since training camp was supposed to start, trying to work on things and trying to get better,” he said. “It's really only been a week or two since I've been taking shots. It was good enough to skate with the trainers.”