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Williams Expected to Play this Week

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes

According to General Manager Jim Rutherford, Justin Williams’ long yet shorter-than-expected rehabilitation process could come to an end soon.  Very soon.

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“You’ll probably see Williams play this week,” said Rutherford.  “I know he’s been working hard and he’s passed every test he’s had.  He’s way ahead of schedule, which we’re all a little nervous and cautious about, but he’s passed every test and you’ll probably see him this week.”

The initial prognosis after Williams ruptured his Achilles tendon in September had him back no earlier than mid-January.  A return against Pittsburgh on Thursday, which Rutherford didn’t rule out, would put him over a month ahead of schedule.

While the initial apprehension is that he might re-injure his foot from coming back so quickly, that isn’t seen to be a major concern.  He hurt himself running in an offseason workout, and over the weekend said he couldn’t reproduce the injury in skates even if he tried.

The bigger problem will be his conditioning and making sure he’s in good enough shape that he won’t pick up an unrelated injury as he did last season, when he hurt his back just minutes into his return from a long-term knee injury.

Rutherford said that adjustments to the team’s training philosophies will help avoid that situation this time around.

“I think that was a product of concentrating more on the injured area than on the overall body,” said Rutherford of William's rehab last season.  “We’ve learned from that, and the training has been [designed] in a way to prevent injuries other than just the main injury.”

If he can go, what a boost for a team that could use it.

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