Redmond takes next step on road to recovery (updated lineups)

- April 5th, 2013

Good evening folks.

Turns out I picked a bad day to be in transit from Montreal. To make matters worse, my flight was delayed by an hour — which wouldn’t have allowed me to be home for a big news day anyway.

So a big thank you to colleague Paul Friesen, who handled a busy day at MTS Iceplex that included the triumphant return to the ice for Winnipeg Jets rookie blue-liner Zach Redmond, who in a fitting turn of events, took to the ice with one of the guys responsible for helping to save his life after that scary skate-cut incident in Raliegh, N.C., Anthony Peluso.

Jim Slater was out on the ice as well, but it was the vision of Redmond on the ice that attracted the most attention.

After a freak accident with teammate Antti Miettinen that left Redmond with a severed femoral artery, the thought of getting back onto the ice this season didn’t even enter the equation. The most important thing was to get Redmond to full strength and then go from there.

Things are progressing so well that six weeks later, Redmond is starting to skate.

When he met with the media to discuss the incident for the first time, Redmond showed off his scar (be sure to check it out on Twitter if you haven’t seen it already) and shared his thoughts.

Again, I wasn’t there but Mr. Friesen shared the quotes with me and Redmond’s enthusiasm if understandable, given what he went through.

Much like the reporters who cover the Jets, Redmond is surprised with how the recovery process has been going. There are some whispers that if the Jets happen to make the playoffs and win a couple rounds, Redmond might even be an option to return to action.

“Obviously it was a scary injury. But as far as healing goes, I’m better off with this injury than, say, an ACL injury. They stitched the artery right away and that’s not even a concern anymore. It’s a matter of getting my muscles back in shape,” said Redmond. “I’m not ruling it out. The reason for all the questions marks with recovery is because it never happens. Right away they were saying 50-50 chance you’ll ever play again. And then week later it was a year recovery. And then a couple weeks later it was, You’ll be ready for training camp next year. Now I’m on the ice. So your guess is as good as mine. But I hope so.”

Even if Redmond doesn’t come back this season, there were some legitimate concerns about whether or not his career could be in jeopardy, but those thoughts no longer exist.

And while there was an element of bad luck involved in the actual incident, Redmond is feeling fortunate it wasn’t worse and has several other highlight-reel moments to remember from his first NHL season.

“I got my goal and my assist out of the way, and got my first NHL game. So I was checking them off,” said Redmond, who had a goal and four points in eight games with the Jets this season. “I’m really happy that occurred.”

Jets head coach Claude Noel had spoken to Redmond by phone during the recovery process, but noted it was great to see him back around the team.

For a team that’s a bit down in the dumps of lately, seeing Redmond on the ice might be uplifting for the group.

“It’s great to see Zach Redmond back, especially after such a short time. It puts things in perspective,” said Noel. “Here’s a guy that could have been in a really tough battle, and here he’s back skating. You see his wounds — they’re pretty enormous. It brings everything into perspective.

It’s encouraging for us. It gives us some life.  I certainly didn’t anticipate him skating anytime soon. When somebody sent that text yesterday saying he was going to skate, I’m like, ‘Serious?’ I thought it  was April 1 or something. And to watch him do so well is really good.”

There was another young D-man that attracted a crowd today as newly-signed Jacob Trouba was on the ice for an optional skate for the first time since deciding to leave the University of Michigan to turn pro and join the Jets for the stretch drive.

“It’s exciting. It’s something I’ve dreamed off my whole life, and it’s finally here,” said Trouba. “I’m just trying to take advantage of it and learn as much as I can.”

Trouba gave an expected response when asked if he hoped to see some game action?

“Yeah, definitely. I’m a hockey player. That’s what I’m excited to do,” said Trouba. “If I get that opportunity I’ll be pretty happy with that. And see what I can do with it.

“I feel pretty good, and hopefully I’m ready to go if they need me.”

Plenty of folks have been wondering when they might see Trouba in a Jets’ uniform.

Please scratch Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers off the list. Tuesday is likely too early as well.

From where I sit and based on the comments from GM Kevin Cheveldayoff about not placing any expectations on Trouba at this point, look for at least a week to pass before the Jets even think about putting their first round pick (9th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft into the lineup.

Don’t get me wrong, I expect him to get into some game action before this season is over. But despite the desperate situation the Jets are in, nobody expects Trouba to come in and make a huge impact right away.

If Trouba plays six games, he would burn the first year of his three-year, entry-level contract, which seems like an unlikely scenario — considering the Jets are down to nine games in the regular season.

Besides, defence is an incredibly tough position to play at the NHL-level, especially for someone who didn’t take part in even a condensed training camp at this level and is only 19-years-old.

This is not an indictment on Trouba. I think he’s going to be a very good player for years to come. He might even be ready to take a regular shift at this level right now, but part of the reason he’s coming in is to get a sense of what the team is going through, to soak in the atmosphere and get a taste of the pro game to give him a leg up when he arrives at training camp next fall.

In time, Trouba is going to play a similar style of game to Zach Bogosian, who could end up being an excellent mentor to the newcomer.

If you’re wondering why Trouba is wearing No. 3, his number in college and at the world junior championship (8) is taken by Alex Burmistrov.

“No reason. Every number I’ve ever worn was taken, so I was left with No. 3,” Trouba explained.

As for the Jets opponent on Saturday, the Flyers come in red-hot, winners of four consecutive games and just a single point behind the Jets in the Eastern Conference standings.

Despite being ravaged by injuries up front and on defence, the Flyers have finally found their collective game and are making a late push for a push of spot. They’re being led by captain Claude Giroux and linemate Jakub Voracek.

Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is keeping things interesting, but at the end of the day, he’s posting wins between the pipes and that’s what he’s paid to do.

Obviously, this is another big challenge for the Jets, who have lost five consecutive games and dropped into 10th in the East.

Noel told reporters that LW James Wright, who has missed the past eight games with an upper-body injury, was available but wouldn’t commit to playing him.

Just a hunch, but I think Wright will be back in. The Jets could use his speed and grit in the lineup and I don’t know why they would have flown him into Montreal if they weren’t planning to put him in the lineup against the Flyers.

Noel also told reporters that Dustin Byfuglien would be moving back on defence, which is where he was before he was benched for the final 12 minutes and change in Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

With the afternoon start on Saturday, there’s no morning skate but here’s how we expect both teams to start (please note that Flyers D Kimmo Timonen will be a game-time decision after suffering an undisclosed injury against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday).

As for the Jets possible lines, this is just a guess on my part and will update after the pre-game warm-up:

JETS GAMEDAY LINES
Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen, Kyle Wellwood
Eric Tangradi, Alex Burmistrov, Mike Santorelli
James Wright, Aaron Gagnon, Chris Thorburn

Ron Hainsey, Zach Bogosian
Toby Enstrom,  Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart, Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec (Al Montoya)

FLYERS

Matt Read, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek
Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds
Simon Gagne, Ruslan Fedotenko, Mike Knuble
Jay Rosehill, Sean Couturier, Adam Hall

Kimmo Timonen, Bruno Gervais (insert Kurtis Foster if Timonen unable to go with injury)
Oliver Lauridsen, Luke Schenn
Erik Gustafsson, Kent Huskins

Ilya Bryzgalov (Steve Mason)

Categories: Hockey

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