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LaRose Returns in Yellow

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
The injury bug has pestered the Carolina Hurricanes locker room as of late, but it seems to be slowly dying off, at least for now.

Michael Smith
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Chad LaRose skated with the team for the first time in over a week today at Raleigh Center Ice. He wore a yellow, non-contact jersey, which has become a familiar site around the rink for the Hurricanes.

Yesterday, LaRose and Jerome Samson (upper-body injury) took the ice after the team concluded its practice. LaRose had been working out alone for a few days by himself prior to that.

“He’s working hard. At least he said he is,” head coach Kirk Muller added with a smile.

“Just [worked on] shooting the puck and making sure my shoulder was all good,” he said. “And I wanted to make sure I felt good today after getting a good workout yesterday.”

LaRose suffered his injury on Jan. 9 in practice when he got tangled up with a teammate and went shoulder-first into the post. It was a physical practice, and one of the most grueling the Canes had this season.

“We were practicing hard, and it was a battle drill,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but stuff happens.”

It was an unfortunate setback in an otherwise very productive season for the 29-year-old winger, who is on pace to put up career numbers. In 81 games during the 2008-09 season, LaRose notched 31 points (19g, 12a). Through 43 this season, he already has 21 points (11g, 10a).

Muller doesn’t want to rush him back, though. With the energetic, physical type of game LaRose plays, his shoulder needs to be 100 percent in order for him to be effective, Muller said.

“We’ll see how he recovered from yesterday and today’s performance before I even consider it being an option,” Muller said when asked if LaRose could play tomorrow against Washington. “We’ll reevaluate it and see how he feels after a good, physical push after practice.”

“I’ve been riding the bike and doing workouts,” he said. “Just taking the time and letting it settle down. I’m good now, so it’s good to know that it’s all right.”

If you ask LaRose, he’s ready to get back in the lineup as soon as he’s given clearance.

“Yeah, whenever they let me,” he said.

Two players that the Hurricanes will definitely be without tomorrow night are Samson and defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. Samson sustained an upper-body injury against Boston on Jan. 14. He skated with Rod Brind’Amour after practice today but will probably need a few more of those sessions before he gets on the ice with the team.

Spacek continues to practice with the team in a full face shield after taking a puck square in the face against Philadelphia on Jan. 10. Muller said Spacek will not play tomorrow, meaning Derek Joslin will remain in the lineup.

Cam Ward worked out off the ice today in what Muller called “maintenance stuff” for the goaltender who will start tomorrow night against Washington.

With LaRose, Spacek and Samson slowly regaining their health, the injury bug is also slowly fading. Joni Pitkanen and Brian Boucher continue to work on long-term recovery, as well. Coming into Friday's game versus Washington, the Hurricanes have 101 man-games lost. Compare that to last year’s total of just 66, a season-low since the organization relocated.

Even still, the team makes no excuses, and with the way they’ve played over the last 10 days, there’s no reason to. The results might not be there, but the effort is.

“In the last 5-10 games really, there’s been a lot of good things,” Muller said. “We just want to keep building on that.”

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