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Backlund improving, no timetable for return

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Mikael Backlund is on the mend. He just can’t tell you when he’ll be good to go.

An arthroscopic procedure three weeks ago has given the 25-year-old Calgary Flames forward plenty of relief and has sped up his recovering time, but Backlund can’t pinpoint when he’s able to return to the lineup and contribute.

“It's hard to say right now,” said Backlund, who has been limited to just 11 games this season with the abdominal issue before shutting it down.

“I've only skated three days but I feel good, so that's positive. I don't want to put a timeline on it or a date. I'm just going to take it day-by-day and hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.

“It's been tough and frustrating. I wanted to come in here and have a good season and play the way I played from the end of November last season. It wasn't what I was planning but it's life and life goes on. I just got to be strong and whenever I can play again healthy I'll be ready.”

The Flames were cautious with Backlund in training camp after he reported in discomfort.

He was eventually elevated to game action before relegated to rest. It didn’t cure what ailed him.

“Now it feels good but before surgery it was there doing daily activities, I could notice it,” Backlund said. “Playing it was good, I had a little medical treatment done just before the season started so that I could play for that three weeks I played. It felt good the first week but then after that it was back to being painful and then I thought there was no point in playing anymore because it would have been there all season.

“I'd rather play 40 or 50 games healthy than 80 with pain.”

He took the first steps to getting healthy with the procedure.

“It's been a frustrating injury right from the start,” Backlund said. “None of the pictures showed anything when I came over here in August. It's been tough through this whole process.

“It is the whole way around my abdominal wall and around my right groin. It wasn't just abdominal when they looked into it. It was the whole abdominal area that was messed up so they had to go in and clean it up.”

Backlund underwent the procedure in St. Louis in November. It’s allowed him to return to the ice, though it’s still remained a slow process.

He started with slow walks on a treadmill before graduating to light jogging and some hip mobility exercises. It followed by running on the water treadmill at WinSport. He graduated to skating while the team was in Chicago visiting the Blackhawks.

But there’s no promise Backlund will be pain-free when he eventually does return to action.

“The surgeon couldn’t promise it’d go away,” he said. “He did a sports hernia type of surgery, even if I didn’t have a sports hernia, and he said he couldn’t guarantee I’d be pain free after. He was hoping, though. And so am I.

“So far, so good. So far I haven’t had any pain skating.

“Unfortunately, it's a tough injury to take. You just want to do well and then something like that happens. I didn't expect it to take four months, either when it happened. It's been tough but finally I'm getting close.

“At least it feels good now knowing there isn't anything more I can do this season. If I have pain I'm going to have to battle through it because I don't know if there is anything else I can do about it.”

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