Oscar Klefbom, like all his teammates, was disappointed in how their season unfolded, but he was very excited about his upcoming off-season training. He had surgery to clean up his shoulder, which has been bothering him for years.
“They went in and basically vacuum cleaned a lot of pieces of bone that was floating around in there,” explained Klefbom.
“When I woke up I got some good news. The surgery went well and I’m very happy. I have a good feeling going back home knowing my shoulder is better,” smiled Klefbom.
The comment, “a lot of pieces of bone,” about 22 of them, had many Oilers fans upset online. I know Twitter isn’t the best place to gauge sanity, but remember bone chips are quite common in pro athletes. The pieces can be very small. Klefbom explained it was more of a pain threshold issue than anything.
“It is almost more mental than physical. If you know you aren’t 100% and you have some bumps and bruises, you want to protect yourself. Early in the season, I wasn’t sure how serious it was, and you start thinking if you get hit you might be out a long time. I wanted to help the guys, especially when we got off to a tough start, and I wanted to help us get back on the winning track. It happened, but now I’m happy I had surgery and everything is good,” continued Klefbom.
He has been dealing with this issue for a few years. It finally got to the point he needed to get it fixed. Rest and medication wouldn’t heal it, but after some rest or a cortisone shot, which he had earlier in the season, he felt better. And that is why he continued playing. He had played with discomfort for a while, and he learned how to play through it.
I think many fans would be surprised how often players are playing banged up, and often with bone chips or other ailments. Surgery is never the first option. Players and doctors will always look for other options first, because even with all the advancements in the medical field, there is always a risk the surgery could lead to other complications.
Some players react poorly to the procedure, and I’ve seen a player have his career ended due to complications from surgery. It is rare, but playing with bumps, bruises or pain is part of being a pro athlete, and many play with shoulder problems. I know many non pro athletes who are living with shoulder problems right now, and many have been told by their physician that surgery won’t guarantee their shoulder is better.
The Oilers doctors and Klefbom made the right decision, it turns out. He played most of the season, didn’t do any extra damage, had a successful surgery and now he has six months to be healthy. Speaking with him today it was clear he was very excited to start next season healthy.
“It has been going on for many years. It feels very good to go home and know I don’t have to go through this again with injections or medications. I don’t want to have any excuses, but it is tough to play when you aren’t 100%. I obviously want to be on the ice and have a positive effect with the guys,” said Klefbom.
He did admit that outside of the mental challenges of dealing with the injury, the pain did limit him physically as well.
“My shot was affected, and certain positions on the ice, but I don’t want to make excuses. I had a tough start to the year, and I’m looking forward to being healthy,” Klefbom explained.
Even without being 100% healthy Klefbom still played 22:50/game. He proved he can play through pain, and while he wasn’t as effective as he was last season, he earned a lot of respect for playing banged up. As he mentioned, the shoulder bothered him last season as well, but it progressively got worse this year and ultimately led to him having surgery.
A healthy Oscar Klefbom should help the Oilers in many areas. He will be more effective 5×5 in his own zone. He will be more of a threat on the powerplay and he will be able to move and battle with players on the PK.
We saw how having injuries, or players not being close to 100%, can impact a team negatively.
You couldn’t wipe the smile off Klefbom’s face today when he discussed his shoulder and how much better he will feel. If you saw him walk into a room today you wouldn’t know he had surgery 18 days ago. He had no sling. He wasn’t favouring his shoulder. He will stay in Edmonton for another week or so for treatment, but then he will head to Sweden and he might make a trip to Copenhagen to watch some of his Oilers teammates play in the World Championship.
The other factor in his successful surgery is he will be ready to open the season in his home country next October.
“Obviously it is going to be a lot of fun. Just watching all the Swedes getting to play in Stockholm, it has been a dream of mine and now we get to do it. I will have a lot of a friends and family there and it will be a great memory,” said Klefbom about the Oilers regular season opener in Sweden.
This season was arguably the most disappointing in franchise history, but Klefbom’s health report is one positive that should carry over to the start of next year.
They will need more positives this off-season, but Klefbom being healthy is great news for the Oilers and their fans.