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Cammalleri closing in on return

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

I’ve been at it for a few weeks now so I just got to jump right back into it and hope that it’s like riding a bike.Mike Cammalleri

CALGARY, AB -- Mike Cammalleri has already missed seven games due to a concussion.

He's not expecting to miss too many more.

The 31-year-old forward practiced with the team prior to Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks and is nearing a return to the Calgary Flames lineup.

"My head feels really good and I’m very thankful for that," Cammalleri said after the morning skate. "I got a couple of skates in before I had to leave last week. I got a real hard one, as [coach] Bob [Hartley] likes to call them, a 'deep fry', in today.

"I’ve been at it for a few weeks now so I just got to jump right back into it and hope that it’s like riding a bike."

He’s done plenty of bike riding of late.

Having been on the ice just a handful of times, Cammalleri has spent plenty of time in the gym trying to ready himself back into game-shape.

He’s not too far off, Hartley admitted.

"He’s been working very hard for the past five [or] six days," he said. "As you know, [the] medical staff are all over concussions with all kinds of testing and we’re putting him on the ice [for practice] and the medical staff will give us the green light [for his return] when he looks good [enough]."

"For those who saw what we put Cammy through [at Tuesday’s practice], we went through a pretty tough bag skate but I’m not a doctor and I’ll let the medical staff do the final call."

Cammalleri also missed seven games to start this season with an upper body injury and, while Lee Stempniak would like to see his teammate back as soon as possible, he admitted he doesn’t want to see it at the expense of Cammalleri's long-term health.

“A second concussion puts you out longer so first and foremost I want him to be healthy,” Stempniak said. “Obviously I want him to be back and back playing but for the short term benefit of the team compared to the long-term health of Mike, we just want to make sure he is fully healed before he returns.”

But that doesn’t mean Cammalleri, a veteran of 643 career National Hockey League games, doesn’t have a timetable in mind for when he’ll be back.

The Flames forward is eyeing a return before the long Olympic break, set to begin on Feb. 9.

"For me personally, I really wanted to get as many games in as possible before the [Olympic] break,” said Cammalleri, who has 13 goals and 21 points in 37 games this season. “It’s already a lay off and then another long layoff so that was important to me so it will be the coach’s decision moving forward when I’m fit to play and when he thinks I can help the club.

"I don’t want to put a date on that and it’s the coach’s decision, ultimately. He’s got to do what’s best for the club.”

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