MONTREAL - After undergoing season-ending surgery in March, Jeff Petry is feeling just fine heading into a brand new year.
The 28-year-old defenseman, who recently returned to Montreal from his offseason home in Michigan, says the procedure to repair his sports hernia and his subsequent rehab work went smoothly and didn't hinder him at all in his efforts to prepare for the 2016-17 campaign.
"It was something that definitely had to be repaired. I was laying low for the first week after surgery, and then we started therapy right away. I was walking in the pool, and then each week after that we'd add some more things and just trained the body to fire the core muscles again," explained Petry, who rehabbed with the help of the Canadiens' medical and training staff at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard until mid-May.
"Before heading back, I got on the ice to make sure everything felt o.k. You're kind of hesitant at first, but we did all the basic things - pushing off and edges. Then, it was on to full starts, stops and pivots to make sure that there were no issues. It was all good there. I went home with no restrictions on my workouts at all," added Petry, clearly pleased that everything worked out for the best post-surgery.
Back on home turf, it was business as usual for the Ann Arbor native. For the fifth straight summer, Petry worked out at renowned sports performance facility Barwis Methods in Plymouth, MI alongside a good-sized group of fellow NHLers. This time around, his workout partners included Detroit Red Wings young guns Dylan Larkin, Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening, among others.
"After taking a little time off, I got back in the gym in June and jumped right back in as if I didn't have the surgery. I was actually kind of surprised how strong I was going in terms of lifting. I was lifting more than I did last summer. That was good for me to see, and I was feeling stronger than in previous years. I feel good," said Petry, who was impressed by his results in the gym over the last few months under the supervision of trainers Mike Barwis and Dan Mozes, having upped his current weight to around 210 pounds with the start of training camp less than two weeks away.
Leaving his West Bloomfield home at dawn every day and getting his workouts in early afforded the Canadiens' No. 26 some precious quality time with his wife, Julie, and infant son, Boyd, who just celebrated his first birthday on August 8th.
"By the time I'd come back, Boyd would just be getting up so I got to experience the full thing - breakfast, having him going around and playing with him. He has a personality now. Getting to see that was great," shared Petry, who simply can't stop smiling when talking about the couple's first-born child. "He's a really easy baby. There's not much he gets upset about, except when his food's gone and he's tired. He'll be doing something, turn over and look at you, and he'll start laughing. He's always exploring. Every day is something different."
One of Petry's personal highlights this summer came in late August when Boyd paid a visit to both his and Julie's alma mater - Michigan State University - in East Lansing, MI. The six-year NHL veteran had made the trip down I-96 to participate in the Spartans' annual Pro Camp at Munn Ice Arena which brings former players back to campus for a good week of training.
"That was a cool experience. It was cool to bring him in the locker room. A lot of people around there hadn't had a chance to meet him before, so it was nice to be able to introduce him and spend some time there together," said Petry, who patrolled the blue line for the Spartans between 2007 and 2010. "I always look at that camp as a highlight every year, but when it happens you know that summer is coming to an end. At that point, it kind of clicks in your brain that you're excited to get back and the season is around the corner."
Now, Petry is ready to officially turn the page on a season in which he was forced to shut things down in late February after suiting up for just 51 games all year. Earlier this week, he began taking part in daily informal skates with a host of other roster players and prospects on site at the Bell Sports Complex. To say that he's happy to be back in town would be a serious understatement.
"It's always fun coming back and seeing the guys again, checking in with them. It was a frustrating year for me. I'd never been injured in my career before with something that put me out for an extended period of time. I'm excited to try to get off to a good start and carry it all the way through the season," said Petry, who put up five goals and 16 points while averaging 21:21 of ice time per outing last year. "Having a long summer, everyone could work on the things they needed to and rest and heal up. I think we're going to have a really good team."
And, in Petry's case, he'll also have a brand new mentor on the back end in Shea Weber to help him try to take his game to another level in 2016-17.
"I know that there's a lot to learn still, and I think Weber's a guy who can really help me with that," concluded Petry, a big fan of Weber's abilities both on and off the ice. "I've seen him play. I think he's a guy I can look up to this year. He's so tough to play against, so strong, and has such a good shot. He'll help the locker room, too, and I think he'll bring everybody closer together. "