December 05 2012 11:22AM
In case you forgot what NHL hockey looked like, or the potential of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, that was the highlights of his five-assist game v. the Chicago Blackhawks. Some Taylor Hall kid wasn't bad either that game potting a hat-trick in the 9-2 drubbing of the Hawks.
Both Hall and Nugent-Hopkins were having a check up this week, but before you freak out keep in mind that the Oilers wanted to use the break in the OKC Barons' schedule to let their doctors look at both of them.
Nugent-Hopkins has felt the odd tinge of pain periodically, but I've been told it is nothing serious. Shoulders can be very finicky, and the Oilers and Nugent-Hopkins wants to find out what is causing the discomfort. The shoulder is not a true joint; the head of the humerus basically floats against the scapula as opposed to a true ball and socket like the hip. The shoulder is naturally unstable, so separations, dislocations and rotator cuff damage are common.
With Nugent-Hopkins they need to ensure that there is no tear in the rotator cuff. There is a big difference between nervous pain and muscular pain. If it is a nerve issue, he could have nothing structurally wrong with his shoulder. No team is forthcoming with the extent of any injury, but the shoulder has so many possible injuries that it is impossible to know for sure if his pain is related to a previous injury.
With Hall he has felt really strong, but the doctors wanted to do an in-depth follow up, to ensure everything is still good.
I've been told from a few sources that this is just precautionary, almost more preventative than anything. Most players have follow up appointments every few months after a surgery, even when they are back playing. The specialist, and the Oilers, want to ensure that everything has healed properly.
Nugent-Hopkins' shoulder needs to get stronger according to his agent, and I've been told twice that this is mainly precautionary, but I'm a bit more skeptical regarding Nugent-Hopkins than Hall. A shoulder can have no structural damage, but a player can still feel some discomfort due to lack of strength.
Even if Nugent-Hopkins' shoulder was feeling fine, I didn't see the point in him going to the World Juniors, but if his shoulder needs a few weeks of rehab to get stronger, then I'd keep him in Edmonton and not have him playing in OKC or Russia. If the lockout ends, then this won't be an issue and he'll just stay in Edmonton anyways, but if it doesn't I'd still lean towards rest and rehab.
It also raises the question that if he was playing with pain, why was he playing? It is impossible to find out how much pain he has been in, and I was told it wasn't regular, but it does make you wonder why he wasn't resting prior to this break in the schedule.
When I spoke to Hall a few weeks ago, he said he felt fine. Back in October he admitted that the lockout helped him because he didn't have to rush back. He was able to spend some extra time building up all the muscles. He did extensive strength training on his back muscles to help build a strong base around his shoulder.
Hall is taking advantage of the break in OKC's schedule. Unlike Nugent-Hopkins, Hall hasn't been complaining about any pain or discomfort leading up to this appointment, and it sounds like it is just a smart follow up appointment.
If you are wondering why Hall had to miss practices in OKC, it is because he went to see a specialist in the States. While NHL players get a lot of perks they, like us, have to go to the doctor. He doesn't come to you.
Hall will play in OKC this weekend, barring an end to the lockout.
I've always felt that players rush back from injuries, and many play through pain that leads to a more serious injury down the road. I understand their desire to compete, and I understand that teams want players back on the ice, but I'd always give them an extra week or two just to be safe.
The Oilers can ill-afford to risk a long-term injury with their potential franchise players, and you hope you hope that these appointments were mostly precautionary. I'd be a bit more concerned about Nugent-Hopkins, only because he was playing with some discomfort.
In the case of Hall I'm wondering if the Oilers are being more proactive and ensuring their players are healing properly and that these follow up appointments will become more frequent in the future.
The Oilers' recent history regarding injuries hasn't been great, and while no one has told me this directly, I sense they've decided to change their protocol in how they deal with injuries; both during the injury as well as after surgery.
I sense a more proactive and cautious approach. I think it will help them long-term.
Yesterday we raised $2,150 for Santas Anonymous. A huge thank you to Ed and his generous bid. I hope you enjoy your wine and golf package.
TODAY'S Package in our MONTH OF GIVING is the Edmonton Eskimo package.
- Signed JC Sherritt Game ball
- SIgned Fred Stamps Jersey
- Signed JC Sherritt print
- A pair of Edmonton Eskimo season tickets.
Bidding goes from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. You can call 1.800.243.1945 or 780.426.8326 to bid.