Ryan Murray was terribly frustrated by a knee injury suffered three weeks ago in Toronto, but things have been looking up lately.
He was in the midst of a fine rookie season, playing top-four minutes on defense for the Blue Jackets and seeing increased responsibility on special teams - in particular the power play. The transition to his first NHL season had gone about as well as one would expect...until he got tangled up with Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel in the Jackets' 2-1 win at Air Canada Centre on Mar. 3.
Both Murray and the Blue Jackets waited to see how he felt in coming days before it was determined this knee injury would not be a short-term recovery. An outlook of 4-to-6 weeks was tough to take, considering how things had unfolded for Murray so far and that he'd be sitting and watching his teammates in the middle of a playoff race.
But now there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and Murray's excited about where he's at.
He has resumed skating this week, beginning earlier in the week by himself at the OhioHealth Ice Haus without hockey gear. Those sessions went well and the knee responded as he'd hoped, Murray said, so he joined the end of Blue Jackets practice today to do more skating and get back to passing and shooting pucks with his teammates.
So far, so good, Murray said after practice, but there's not a timetable in place for a return date just yet.
"They said there's no real timetable, we just have to see how it does in the next week," Murray said after practice. "I've been skating, stretching (the knee) and working out a bit...just the normal stuff, trying to get back in shape and now skating. It's another step."
"I've been away from the team for so long, not going on the road and not doing anything. It's nice just to get the rhythm back."
Murray has had to be patient and not push his injured knee too hard, but he's been encouraged by the response after a few days of skating.
"I've been testing it out the last few days, and now that it feels good after skating, it was good to get out there today and do some more," he said."Right now I have to get my ice legs back...you can do whatever you want on the bike and in the gym, but it's a whole different world out there on the ice in practices and games.
"We've really got to see how it feels in the next week. With skating, it's felt pretty good. Today I could really start ramping up in certain areas with certain drills, but at the same time, there's still a little ways to go. It's not as bad as it could have been. If I had to have a knee injury, this was probably the best one to have."