DETROIT – He’s still a couple weeks away from putting on skates and getting back on the ice, but Detroit Red Wings rookie forward Jan Mursak is progressing from a severely broken ankle that happened in the preseason.
Mursak, who had earned a spot on the Wings before the injury, is encouraged by how quickly he was able to shed both the initial cast and the walking cast that followed. He’s walking around with no cast right now, even though the ankle still feels stiff and isn’t strong enough to run or jump on it yet.
“It’s going pretty good,” Mursak said after working out in the Wings’ weight room Saturday morning at Joe Louis Arena. “Every day it’s a lot better and I can do more stuff. There’s still certain things that I can’t do, yet hopefully in the next couple weeks I can get better and get back on the ice and start skating.”
Mursak didn’t require surgery to fix the fracture, which happened in a preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Mursak was bumped during a hard charge to the net and lost his edge. He was sent flying feet-first into the dasher boards behind the net and his foot bent at an awkward angle – snapping a bone in his ankle and damaging some ligaments.
“I was lucky,” said Mursak, who made his debut with the Wings last season and played 19 games with Detroit. “It was kind of … on the line between surgery or not. I had to ask a few more specialists for ankles to see if I’d need one, but in the end I didn’t need (surgery), and it’s good because my recovery … it’s a lot shorter than it would be with surgery.”
The speedy Mursak played in 54 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League last season and finished with 13 goals and 22 assists. He’s just the second Slovenian to play in the NHL after the Los Angeles Kings’ Anze Kopitar and was eagerly anticipating his first full season in the League before he got hurt.
His last cast came off two weeks early, but Mursak doesn’t want to jump the gun in setting a timetable for a return – which doctors initially said would be around Christmas time in December.
“It just takes time to stretch that ankle now because it’s so stiff,” Mursak said. “We’ll see in the next few weeks how it goes. It’s still healing. It doesn’t hurt as much anymore. It’s just stiff and we have to stretch that out.”