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Strombone1

Kesler MONTHS away from playing

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VANCOUVER — Ryan Kesler’s return from offseason shoulder and wrist surgeries has been pushed back several months, according to is agent. The Vancouver Canucks beg to differ on the extent of that timeline provided by Kurt Overhardt, but it’s not a stretch for anyone to suggest that the centre won’t be back next month as forecasted earlier this fall.

When Kesler was re-evaluated two weeks ago at the Cleveland Clinic to assess progress from a May 8 procedure on his left shoulder and June 27 surgery on his left wrist, it was determined the rehab load placed on one side of his body was taking a toll and that progress has been slow.

“The re-evaluation was positive in that the surgeries were successful,” said Overhardt. “However, the compounding nature of both of those surgeries being on the same side of the body, it’s been very hard to properly rehab either one of the them — particularly the shoulder — because that’s obviously a big deal.

“I don’t think it’s fair to have any sort of time frame when he’s going to be 100 per cent and cleared to play. I don’t have a crystal ball and it’s certainly months away, it’s not weeks away. It’s several months away.”

If the NHL lockout ends and a shortened season commences next month, the Canucks will be further taxed to figure out their riddle in the middle. They expected to start without Kesler, but his setback means those second-line minutes must be eaten up individually or by committee. Chris Higgins played centre for the Montreal Canadiens while Alex Burrows and Mason Raymond have taken shifts in the middle A more viable option would be to promote Maxim Lapierre into that role and also see if Manny Malhotra and Jordan Schroeder can centre the third and fourth lines. Andrew Ebbett is on a two-way contract and playing for the AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves and could also work into the bottom-six mix. The Canucks could also seek help in a Roberto Luongo trade and landing Toronto Maple Leafs centre Tyler Bozak has long been rumoured. As for Kesler, the Canucks are holding out better hope for a quicker return of Kesler than Overhardt.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s months away — that’s news to me — and I haven’t been given a timeline,” said assistant general manager Laurence Gilman. “The rehab for his shoulder was complicated by the surgery that happened with his wrist and it has impacted his ability to build strength in his shoulder.

“It’s a gradual process and he’s improving every day. We assume he’ll be healthy in due course but when that’s going to be, at this stage that’s not clear.”

Regardless, caution is obviously the best route for the 28-year-old Kesler to travel because a robust style has led to three surgeries in the last year. Multiple procedures have led to multiple problems and the latest are of great concern.

“It has affected his strength and range of motion to actually use the arm to stickhandle and shoot the puck,” added Overhardt. “You have to properly rehab because if you don’t, you’re going to have imbalances, so they [Cleveland Clinic doctors] are trying to be really smart about it. He’s got a lot of hockey ahead of him so we’re trying to make sure that he recovers and comes back 100 per cent and play like he can play.”

Kesler is being paid his $5 million US salary and is under the care of the Canucks because he was injured when the collective bargaining agreement expired Sept. 15 and players were locked out by the owners. He was flying home to Michigan onThursday and unavailable for comment, but knew long ago the rehab process was going to be arduous with two surgeries on his left side.

“If I had my shoulder surgery on the right side, it might have helped a bit,” he said. “It’s going to take time, but time heals everything.”

It certainly explains how far off the mark the former Selke Trophy winner was last season. Hip-flexor stiffness from a previous surgery, a bad shoulder and bothersome wrist affected Kesler’s shot velocity and accuracy and also his battle level in dropping from a career-high 41 goals to 22 and no goals in five playoff games. There was some encouragement when he collected 17 points in a 15-game span in December — scoring in five-consecutive games from Jan. 31 to Feb. 9 — but the Livonia, Mich. native then went eight games without a goal. Kesler tore a labrum muscle in his left shoulder on Feb. 9 but soldiered on, even though he had been nursing a wrist injury since November.

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Good thing the NHL looks like its YEARS away from reaching any sort of agreement.

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Didn't know he's still getting his money, that's a nice little circumvention.

I knew these injuries were long term, I didn't think THIS long. I'll take the silver lining and hope one of our young guys can step up.

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I'd rather he heal up 100% than play through pain and/or discomfort. Still, it is concerning that his recovery is taking so long. You have to wonder if he'll ever have maximum use of that shoulder again.

I hate to say this but given how much other teams improved (on paper) since last year's playoffs and given how little the Canucks did at free agency, I don't know how well we'd have done this season if there was hockey. Kesler injured, and so many players that might have continued their slumps from last year....I don't know how we'd be doing right now but I can't see us being a threat for tops in the West anymore.

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I'd rather he heal up 100% than play through pain and/or discomfort. Still, it is concerning that his recovery is taking so long. You have to wonder if he'll ever have maximum use of that shoulder again.

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I would not put any stock into this at all. This all about his agent making sure that the Canucks are aware that Kesler is "months away" from returning, and thus, needs to continue to be paid during the lockout. It looks good when something like this is reported to the media should someone from the Canucks decide that Kesler is in fact healthy and therefore, deserving of being locked out.

I full expect that if there is an NHL season, Kesler will make a "miraculous" recovery and return much sooner if not immediately upon the start of training camp.

Keep in mind, the timing of Kesler's surgery was also orchestrated by his agent as well. He waited a full two months after the playoffs ended to have surgery, thus ensuring that he would not be ready for the start of the season, and therefore would be able to be paid during the lockout. Kesler has also been very sure to not jeopardize his free pay day by showing up at charity events but playing non-contact roles like coach or referee.

It certainly shows where Kesler's values are. It's all about getting paid, solidarity be damned.

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If what his agent says is true, Kesler may be out for the season, although he may play through it for the playoffs. Of course that's if we even have a season. Unless we're lucky it's looking like all the players are months away from playing.

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I'd rather he heal up 100% than play through pain and/or discomfort. Still, it is concerning that his recovery is taking so long. You have to wonder if he'll ever have maximum use of that shoulder again.

I hate to say this but given how much other teams improved (on paper) since last year's playoffs and given how little the Canucks did at free agency, I don't know how well we'd have done this season if there was hockey. Kesler injured, and so many players that might have continued their slumps from last year....I don't know how we'd be doing right now but I can't see us being a threat for tops in the West anymore.

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Don't be fooled by this. Of course his agent is going to say that he'll be out longer.

Why not get paid while the NHL is locked out?

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Don't be fooled by this. Of course his agent is going to say that he'll be out longer.

Why not get paid while the NHL is locked out?

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Remind me again what we could have fetched after a 21 year old Hodgson demands a trade in the summer after not getting enough ice time? I'm sure a lot of teams would want a young primadonna.

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To all those saying that Kesler is still claiming to be injured so he can stay on the Canucks payroll:

I don't know if that's possible. The team and the league would require proof in the form of scans and reports from Kesler's doctors that show the existence of the injury. If a player like RNH started the lockout on LTIR and then came off of it once he was healed, I can't see it being as simple as a player and his agent "claiming" that he's injured. There are millions of dollars on the line here. I'd hope that the NHL is more conscientious than to pay a player without requiring proper proof of his status.

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Frankly, with no hockey to be played, i don't give a damn.

Even if the season were to start tomorrow, all Canuck 'injuries' are suspect cap space shenanigans.

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and yet if the NHL announces they reached an agreement and they start the regular season jan 1st, he'll somehow be 100% next week and ready to attend training camp...

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