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After Injury Scare, Subban is Focused on the Future

by Eric Russo / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTONMalcolm Subban is used to getting peppered with pucks. He has been struck in most parts of his body.

It's just that most of the time, those part are covered in armor. Unfortunately for Subban, that was not the case last February.

Subban was taking shots in warmups before the Providence Bruins game against the Albany Devils at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center when he was pelted in the throat, an area that was not protected by his mask or padding.

At first, Subban felt fine. He though it was just another bruise.

But he quickly realized something wasn’t quite right. After skating over to the bench, Subban had trouble breathing and swallowing water. It was at that point that the Providence trainers examined him and determined he needed to get to the hospital.

The diagnosis was a fractured larynx, which required surgery and four to eight weeks of recovery, causing him to miss the remainder of the P-Bruins' season.

“I honestly thought that I just got hit and I was swollen and I was going to have to come back up on the bench and be freezing cold,” Subban said at this week’s Bruins Development Camp.

“That’s what I thought was going to happen. I didn’t think anything serious happened to me, honestly, I just thought I was going to go back on. And then they said they were putting me to sleep. Woke up the next morning and then the rest is history."

Subban was not able to speak for several weeks after the injury and was forced to communicate by typing out notes on his cellphone.

“The hospital was the worst,” said Subban. “I had to write notes the whole time.”

There was not much improvement in the comfort department even after the 22-year-old returned home. The pain was tolerable and Subban was able to eat, but after sleeping for much of his five-day stay in the hospital, he was unable to catch much shut eye over the following days.

“I pretty much started eating right away,” said Subban. “It was mainly just the talking part. To be honest, it didn’t hurt. I was pretty much asleep the whole time in the hospital, so when I got home I couldn’t sleep for five days. I literally stayed up two nights in a row. It was kind of hard to sleep; I couldn’t lay down.”

It was all a major blow to what was shaping up to be an important step in Subban’s development. In his third full season with Providence, the 2012 first-round pick (24th overall) had a 2.46 goals against average and a .911 save percentage, while posting a 14-8-5 record in 27 games.

Missing the final two months of the season put an abrupt halt on that advancement.

“He was progressing great,” Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo said during his Development Camp media availability earlier this week. “It was unfortunate the injury he had, having to miss half a season. But he’s definitely on the right track.

“I think that’s part of the reason we brought him in here because he hasn’t played in a long time.”

For Subban, having to sit out might have been the most painful part of the entire experience.

“It wasn’t even in terms of me doing so well, whether I was going good or bad, I just wanted to get back on the ice and help the team, so that was probably the toughest part about it,” said Subban.

“[I’m] just anxious for the season now and trying to get ready for that.”

Pandolfo expects that Subban will be fine for the start of the regular season – and so does Subban.

“I feel pretty good right now, and it’s obviously still early in the summer. I’m obviously still training here, just working towards getting ready for training camp,” said Subban.

Now that he is back on the ice at full strength, Subban is keen on regaining the momentum he was building before his injury. Development Camp is a prime opportunity for him to do that.

Subban and fellow Providence netminder Zane McIntyre had their own on-ice session with Bruins goaltending coach Bob Essensa on Tuesday morning.

“I think that was one of the biggest improvements in my game last year was I was being a lot calmer in net. I wasn’t moving around as much and staying more compact,” said Subban, who played one game with Boston in 2014-15.

“It’s really helped me and I think that’s why I was able to play so consistent because I was doing a lot less moving and it’s making it mentally and physically easier on the ice, on myself, to play and to be more consistent for the team’s sake. “

The drive to return to the NHL is back on track. And Subban is feeling more impenetrable than ever.

“I have the upgraded neckpiece, I have all the gear on now, the protection and stuff. I’ve gotten use to it,” said Subban.

“So, honestly, I feel like a tank. I’m not even worried at all about getting hit again.”

The 2016 Boston Bruins Development Camp is presented by AT&T.

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