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Brouwer skates with team, close to returning

The winger could return to the lineup within a week

by Torie Peterson @ToriePeterson / CalgaryFlames.com

CALGARY, AB -- Truth be told, Troy Brouwer hated today's practice gear.

But he's willing to wear the garb if he's going to be allowed to skate alongside his teammates.

Sporting a yellow non-contact jersey, the winger joined practice today for the first time since suffering a fractured finger on Dec. 23.

"I can't wait to shed the yellow jersey as soon as possible," he said with a laugh.

"I've been skating for about a week by myself and it gets boring after awhile. To be out there, laughing, joking around ... I know the guys have a game tonight and they're trying to get ready but personally, it's nice to out there again with them."

Brouwer has missed seven games since being hit by a Kris Versteeg clearing attempt in the Flames' 4-1 win over the Canucks last month. It has been longest stretch of time he has missed due to injury in his career and has been a trying experience for the 31-year-old.

"The tough part is being patient. I'm not a very patient person on my best days so dealing with something like this is always a bit difficult," he admitted. "But I'm trying to take the rehab as best I can and get back as soon as I can.

"If things go well in the next little while, I'll be back fairly soon. I've got a couple things to do, another x-ray to make sure everything is healing and in line and then we'll go from there."

'Fairly soon' could be as early as the Flames' match-up with the Florida Panthers on Jan. 17 or their battle against the Nashville Predators on Jan. 19.

"He's getting really close. I don't know when that's going to be but I would say within the next week, the next seven days, you're going to see (Brouwer) play ... if everything stays on course," head coach Glen Gulutzan stated. "We've got x-rays today and stuff like that so there's always those medical hurdles but he feels good and we just have to see with the doctors where he's at, healing-wise."

In terms of Brouwer's recovery, he is slightly ahead of schedule - much like Johnny Gaudreau was when he suffered a similar injury in mid-November. Gaudreau missed 10 games after undergoing surgery on a fracture on his pinkie finger.

Over the past couple of weeks, Brouwer has diligently rehabbed the injury and hasn't suffered any setbacks throughout the recovery process.

"To be honest with you, it hurt but it wasn't too terrible - even from the beginning. So, the pain threshold has been fine," he said. "I haven't done too many things that have hurt it. I've fallen in practice once or twice, that kind of sucks. But things have been good.

"I've been happy with the progression with it."

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