After missing 28 games due to a lower-body injury, defenseman David Schlemko
is eager to jump back in the lineup tonight when the Coyotes play at the Vancouver Canucks.
Schlemko, who has notched a goal and 10 assists this season, suffered the injury in the 5-1 win over the New York Islanders on Jan. 7.
The injury was so severe that many originally feared he would be lost for the season. Schlemko, however, refused to let the injury end his season.
“It’s been a process - from being locked up on the couch for a few weeks to starting to get some workouts in with a boot on,” Schlemko said. “I finally got that boot off after six weeks. It’s good just to get back on the ice, and now I feel like I’m at the point where I’m ready to go here and can’t wait to get back out there.”
Schlemko never gave up on the season and kept rehabbing with hopes that he could rejoin his teammates during this late-season playoff run.
“For me and the training staff, we never thought it was going to be season-ending,” said Schlemko, who played in all four the Coyotes’ playoff games last spring and scored a goal. “I think that’s one of those rumors that gets thrown around, but we worked real hard to get back as soon as possible and now we’re to that point, so it’s pretty exciting.”
As with any athlete, one of the toughest parts of being injured is having to watch your team play without you, and it was no different for Schlemko.
“It’s always tough when you’re not playing, but it’s a little easier when we’re racking up points like that month of February,” Schlemko said. “Now the wins have been a little bit more hard to come by. So, it really made me push a lot harder to get ready to go.”
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But despite Schlemko’s desire to return to the lineup as quickly as possible, he says the solid play of young defensemen Michael Stone
and Oliver Ekman-Larsson
has allowed him not to rush back into action.
“I think those guys have come in and done a great job, I have to say that first and foremost. But for me, with an injury that keeps me out that long, I don’t think you want to rush it back and be a liability out there,” Schlemko said. “…It’s a crucial time of year now, so I want to make sure I’m ready to come back and I contribute to winning games.”
Not only are Schlemko’s teammates excited to have him back in the lineup, but he’s excited to get back and help push his team into the postseason.
“It’s an exciting time of year,” Schelmko said. “…I’m just excited to be back and trying to contribute to making the playoffs and going from there.”