For Scott Hartnell, watching hockey, rather than playing it for the first time in his life, brought on new levels of frustration.
Saddled with a fractured foot, Hartnell has spent more time this season on his couch watching the Flyers than playing for them – and it hasn’t always been a pleasurable experience.
“Since I’ve been here in Philadelphia I’ve hardly missed any games,” Hartnell said. “So, to sit and watch games on T.V. like a fan – I’ve definitely thrown the remote across the room a couple times – and then I’ve forgotten that I have to hobble up to get it.”
But now, he doesn’t have to worry about that any longer.
Hartnell was back at practice Thursday, skating with the Adirondack Phantoms, the Flyers AHL affiliate who is in town for a game at the Wells Fargo Center tomorrow, at Skate Zone in Voorhees and then skating with Flyers’ reserves and assistant coaches afterward.
|Scott Hartnell chats with Phantoms defenseman Danny Syvret at practice - Hartnell's first since fracturing his foot Jan. 22. |
All told he was on the ice for nearly two hours – his most extensive skating since the injury – and his target to return to action for the Flyers in a week or so remains a target.
“It felt great,” he said. “After not practicing for just about four weeks to get on with the Phantoms was a treat. It felt not too bad. I felt a little rusty. The foot’s not 100 percent, but it’s good to be out there and I’m just waiting for the date when I’ll be ready to go.”
Flyers’ General manager Paul Holmgren announced yesterday that Hartnell is expected to return in 7-10 days.
That would put him back in the Flyers lineup either Wednesday against Washington – as part of another NBC Sports Net “Rivalry Night” game, or the following Saturday – March 2 – against Ottawa.
“That’s probably right about right,” Hartnell said. “We talked a little bit about the scheduling and about getting a couple practices in before I do play, but it’s different obviously between practice and games, but I’ve played quite a few games in the NHL so it’s not about being rusty or making young mistakes, it’s more about feeling comfortable myself out there in my skate and on the ice.”
Hartnell said there were things he was able to do in practice today that he wasn’t able to do as recently as four days ago, but that there are several other things he has to test before he’s good enough to go.
“Theres a little hesitation when you break a bone in your foot,” he said. “There’s that first step when you get out of the cast. And then when you put on the walking boot – last week it was the first couple [strides] in a skate and it didn’t feel that comfortable, but now, after four or five days of skating I feel a lot more comfortable – especially on my edges – The only thing I haven’t done is some battle drills in the corners to see how my balance is and things like that.
“Tomorrow I’m going to want to get on the ice with some guys and do 1-on-1s. Especially with my game - I’m not just going to be staying on the perimeter. I go to the hard areas – the corners, the front of the net, having someone cross-check you while you are standing in front of the net – I have to try to be stable and get my stick on pucks and that’s going to be a big part of the practice tomorrow and moving forward.”
Hartnell said he still feels some pain in the foot and up his ankle when he shoots and strides hard off the left leg, but he’s still thrilled with where he’s at at this point in his recovery.
“All-in-all, to be four weeks from surgery Friday and if you would have told me I’d be skating after three weeks I would have told you you’re a fool,” he said. “So, I’m pretty excited about where I am in the recovery because I want to be on the ice to help the boys.”
In Phantoms news…
PPL Corporation and the Phantoms announced today that PPL will be the naming rights sponsor for the Allentown arena where the future Lehigh Valley Phantoms team will begin playing in the fall of 2014.
Under the 10-year agreement, the arena will be called PPL Center.
PPL also has the naming rights for the soccer stadium (PPL Park) in Chester, home of the Philadelphia Union.
No news yet on the condition of Matt Read, who left yesterday’s game with an upper-body injury. Nor has there been an update on Andrej Meszaros, who went back to the doctor today.
If Read can’t play tonight, I would think that Tye McGinn would be re-inserted into the lineup.
As soon as I hear anything I will update you here.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37