Ales Hemsky’s surgically repaired shoulder and Ryan Whitney’s re-attached ankle tendon aren’t 100 per cent and could keep them out of the line-up when the Edmonton Oilers open their pre-season.
Beyond that, as in being healthy enough to start the regular season against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rexall Place on Oct. 9, nothing is certain, although both players sounded optimistic today after skating at the Kinsmen Arenas.
Whitney played just 35 games last season before a tendon on the inside of his right ankle tore loose, forcing surgery. Hemsky was limited to just 47 games in 2010-11 because of a strained groin and a concussion before the shoulder put him out for good..
"The shoulder is pretty good. It’s not 100 per cent, yet, but it should be ready for the season," said Hemsky, who just returned from seeing his surgeon in Cleveland.
"It’s not 100 per cent. It’s still a little stiff, but other ways I feel pretty good on the ice."
"It’s getting better," Whitney said. "The past two days I tried some new insoles in my skates, orthodics, and they feel pretty good. I’ve tried them before but never really stuck with them.
"The training staff are making me wear them for two straight weeks. You’ve got to try whatever you can. The first two days have been pretty good." Pretty good, however, doesn’t mean completely good.
"No, not 100 per cent," Whitney said about his status for the opening of training camp this weekend. "But I’m getting there and there’s still a lot of time before the season starts.
"I won’t be playing in any of the first two or three exhibition games, but I can’t say that for sure, even. The doctor knows I’m ready to go full-bore with my ankles, it’s just about how it reacts to practises and games."
TAKE THE TIME
"It’s like a range of motion thing," Whitney said. "It’s just a little tight. It’s just tight. I mean, they put the tendon back.
"Obviously, you put something back brand new and it’s going to be tight and not as loose as it was for the 28 years I was skating prior to that. It’s just range of motion and tightness. It’s in there good and the surgery was a success."
It’s not like Whitney has to make the team, so there’s no reason for him to rush back. The Oilers need him for the long haul.
"If I was a rookie right now, I’d be pretty rattled," Whitney said. "As it is, I’m still a little frustrated, like I’ve said, but I also know that I’m going to be here and I do myself and the team more good coming back feeling 100 per cent.
"I came back early in Pittsburgh and played brutal and got traded that year, so I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t be selfish and want to come back early because it doesn’t help me or the Oilers."
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.