ST. PAUL - Jordan Martinook walked into the visiting locker room at Xcel Energy Center after practice on Friday, having been activated from injured reserve just hours prior.
"Yes, Marty, yes!" Andrei Svechnikov hollered.
Svechnikov has assumed some of Martinook's hype-man antics in his absence.
"I've been watching Svech, and he's kind of trying to steal my thunder there," Martinook laughed. "I'm going to have to put him back in his place a little bit."
It will be Martinook hooping and hollering and "Yeah, Svech!"-ing before warm-ups come Saturday afternoon, when he returns to the Carolina Hurricanes' lineup in their matinee against the Minnesota Wild.
"I've never really been out during the season before, not this long-term, so it's a lot mentally that you don't think about," he said. "I was around the guys a lot, which helped. Them kind of just asking about me every day, it just makes it a little easier. I worked hard to get back here, and I'm excited to get going."
Video: Jordan Martinook: "I'm diving right in"
Martinook underwent surgery to repair a core muscle injury in early October and has since missed the team's last 15 games. Recovery time was estimated at least six weeks, but after skating with the team for the last week and experiencing no discomfort, it's game on.
"He needed a few good practices under his belt, which he had," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "Like he said last night, 'I can keep practicing, but I'm not going to feel any better.' We're at a point where we've got to dive in."
"It's all about how I feel. I feel good, and I'm skating good. I feel 100 percent," he said. "At the beginning of the year, I could feel some pain. Whenever you have that in the back of your mind, you're always thinking about that a little bit. You're not thinking about what you need to do. Now I'm pain free, and with a clear head, I can just go out and do what I do. My skating isn't hindered, so I can go out and buzz around like I know I can."
Martinook will undoubtedly provide a spark for the Canes, both on and off the ice. He's one of the key leaders on the team, wearing a letter as an alternate captain. He's a spark plug, a bundle of energy that bounces around, ensuring his teammates are just as ready for puck drop as he is.
"He's a big part of our group, and we've been missing that, I think, the emotional side of things," Brind'Amour said. "We definitely missed him."
On the ice, he channels that pent-up energy into a ferocious forecheck, banging bodies and menacing opponents.
"There's a lot of pace and chaos, is what I like to call it," Brind'Amour said. "He causes a lot of disruption out there with his play. He puts a lot of pressure on other teams to make plays and turn over pucks. He's hard to play against."
Though he's been traveling with the team for a couple of weeks, not being able to dress and be a difference-maker on the ice has clearly pushed Martinook in his rehabilitation process.
"You see all the guys out there working hard, and you want to be out there with them. You're kind of helpless when you're up in the press box eating popcorn," he joked. "I'm excited to not be eating popcorn anymore and be down there helping them out."
Full steam ahead for the Cane Train. It's time for a Marty Party - he's back.
"I'm not the type of guy to ease into it," Martinook said. "I don't dip my toe in; I'm diving right in, and I'm going to go out and just play the way I play. I've been pushing myself in practice. That's kind of my test, and it's felt great. Now I'm ready to put it into a game."