HAZELWOOD, Mo. - After missing 49 games with a fractured ankle, Blues forward Jaden Schwartz has been activated from injured reserve and is ready to make his return to the lineup.
Schwartz was originally injured in practice on Oct. 23, 2015 when he slipped during a routine practice drill and collided with the net. Surgery was performed immediately and Schwartz was expected to be sidelined for 12 weeks.
“I knew it was pretty serious. It was the most painful injury I’ve ever had,” said Schwartz, who is expected to return to the lineup Friday when the Blues meet the Florida Panthers. “I was coming down the right side on (Brian Elliott), took a shot far pad and reached out for the rebound. I lost an edge, went flying into the net and I fell right past ‘Moose’ and my ankle got caught in the mesh outside the net. My body was going one way, my ankle got caught and right at that time, I knew it was pretty serious.”
Schwartz said he couldn’t put weight on the ankle for about six weeks before graduating to crutches and a walking boot. Once we could walk again, he said the ankle was “locked up” and he began working to regain his mobility and strength.
"I knew it was pretty serious. It was the most painful injury I've ever had." - Schwartz
“It was a pretty long process, a lot longer than I expected because it was a new injury for me,” he said.
The 23-year-old Blues forward resumed skating on his own in early January and has been practicing with the team since Jan. 19. In seven games this season, Schwartz has posted four assists and is returning at the perfect time for the Blues, who are looking for more offense as the club enters the season’s final stretch.
"He's missed 50 games, and it's going to be at least five or six games before he's even close to speed," Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He's going to have his hands full just keeping up. The first two or three games, he's mostly going to see 5-on-5 play. When he's up to speed, he brings instant quick offense that's hard to find."
“It will almost feel like a new season for me,” he said. “I’ve been out for so long. It will take me a few shifts to get up to speed and calm down a little bit. It’ll be a new experience for me with only 27 games left to jump in. Hopefully it doesn’t take too long to get up to speed and I’m just hoping I feel comfortable doing everything on the ice.”