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Hartnell skates with Phantoms, moves closer to return

Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 1:55 PM
Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell took the next step in his recovery from a broken left foot Thursday, going through a full practice with the Flyers' minor-league club, then skating with the Flyers' extra players.

In all, he was on the ice for close to two hours, the longest he's skated since Jan. 22, when he broke the first metatarsal in his foot.

"It felt great," Hartnell said. "Not practicing for just about four weeks, to get on with the [Adirondack] Phantoms was a nice treat. … To get out there felt not too bad. Still a little rusty, foot's not 100 percent yet."

Hartnell had surgery Jan. 25 and has been on the ice for about five days. He said there's still pain and soreness in the foot, but understands that it's part of the recovery process.

"There's a little hesitation when you break a bone in your foot," he said. "It's your first step when you get out of the cast [and] you put on a walking boot. Then last week it was the first couple steps in a skate, and that didn't feel that comfortable. Now that it's been four or five days skating I feel a lot more comfortable out there, especially on my edges."

Overall, Hartnell said he's excited about where he is in his recovery.

"Friday will be four weeks from surgery," Hartnell said. "If you said I'd be skating after three weeks, I'd say you're a fool. I'm pretty excited about where I am in the recovery. I want to be on the ice badly to help the boys."

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Wednesday he expected Hartnell back in the lineup within 7-10 days, a timeline Hartnell said makes sense to him. However, Hartnell said he would like to get into a few practices prior to returning to the lineup.

"We talked a little bit about the scheduling and trying to get in a couple practices before I do play," he said. "It's different, practice compared to games. I've played quite a few games in the NHL, it's not about being rusty or making young mistakes. It's about feeling comfortable out there in my skate and on the ice.

"[Friday] I'll definitely want to get on the ice with some guys and do some 1-on-1s, things like that. Especially for my game, it's not a perimeter game -- I'm going right to the hard areas, the corners, in front of the net. Having someone crosscheck you and try to move you in front of the net and trying to stay stable and get my stick on pucks. That's going to be a big part of practice [Friday] and moving forward."

Besides dealing with lingering pain in his foot, Hartnell said his biggest issue is getting his conditioning back.

"If you break an arm or shoulder, you can get on the bike and keep your conditioning up that way," he said. "They have a UB (upright bike), a bike for hands, and you're doing that, your shoulders are killing you. You can't do any leg work -- my left leg is a lot skinnier than my right leg. That's probably the worst thing about being injured, trying to get your wind back and your energy back and your timing on the ice."

Hartnell had missed three games in his first five seasons with the Flyers, making watching from the sideline that much tougher to deal with. The Flyers went 6-6-1 without Hartnell prior to their current two-game win streak.

"Since I've been here in Philadelphia I haven't missed hardly any games," Hartnell said. "To sit like a fan and watch the game, I've definitely thrown the remote a couple times across the room, but then I forgot I had to hobble up and get the remote."

But now that he's able to get back on the ice and return to something close to normal, the frustration is starting to turn to anticipation.

"Just waiting for the date to say that I'm ready to go," Hartnell said.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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