Red Wings prospect/forward Evgeny Svechnikov looked like he was skating fine during training camp, but a big ice bag on his right knee on the second day told an honest story–the truth of the matter is that his ACL is still healing almost a year after he had reconstructive surgery
Svechnikov spoke with the media on Tuesday morning at Little Caesars Arena, and he admitted that his ACL is still sore, and both Svechnikov and coach Jeff Blashill weighed in on big #37’s rehabilitation process.
Four intense days of skating in training camp were tough but helped him prepare.
“It’s a little bit, I wouldn’t say not in shape, but I can feel that I was not on the ice for all season,” Svechnikov said. “It’s kind of double work for me. It’s conditioning-wise and just feeling the game again. I feel it’s going to take a little bit of time, but it’s coming. Every day it’s better and better and it feels like it’s going to be getting better. I’m looking forward to it feeling better.”
A good-sized winger (6-3, 212) with offensive ability, Svechnikov, 22, will be skating on a line with Michael Rasmussen at center and Taro Hirose.
“I think it’s a long time to be out and super hard,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “No real high expectations; let him go out and feel his way into this thing. You got to get used to how your leg feels. Anyone who’s had any kind of injury knows it’s never the same. It’s hard at the beginning of any year to have all your habits ingrained and be able to play without thinking, but it’s really hard for a guy who’s missed tons of time to play without thinking. That’s the way you have to play to be faster.”
Svechnikov was to [play in] his first game action in a year when the Wings opened the NHL preseason on Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“It just brings a lot of stuff in my head and what I went through,” said Svechnikov told Mlive.com. He was slated to skate on a line with Taro Hirose and Michael Rasmussen. “This is it. This is the day. I was counting for this day all year. I’m super excited, super pumped, also tired but that’s really nothing that matters now. The camp was real tough but it’s all behind and now. It’s fun time to go.”
Throughout his ordeal, Svechnikov sought the counsel of teammates who’d been down the road before. That support group included Grand Rapids (AHL) teammate Matt Lorito and ex-Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall.
“Lorito said it takes a while,” Svechnikov noted.. “He said he’s just feeling good after 16, 17 months. He’s just feeling normal. Kronner said he was playing after six months. So it’s everybody different but we’ll see how I feel.”
And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
“For sure, it’s big,” Svechnikov said of the coming season. “Every year is big, like I said before, but this is the (biggest) one. When I do good and when I feel good on the ice, when I feel like my knee is good, I’m just good. We will talk about it, but I have to do it.”
Coach Jeff Blashill agreed this might be a key season for Svechnikov, but said he believes Svechnikov can face the pressure.
But what’ll be important for Svechnikov is to relax and not put undue, added pressure on himself — something Svechnikov has tended to do through his young career.
“It’s a big year for him, especially after missing a full year,” Blashill said. “The league always has room for great players, so just play great. He tends to put lots of pressure on himself. He can’t. Just relax and just go and play and understand it’s a marathon and not a sprint .He’s going to have good moments, going to have bad moments. He just has to keep working through it.”
MLive’s Khan also posted a clip of Svechnikov’s comments to the media: