It is time for Kyle Wellwood and my, how things can change in five days.
Wellwood, scratched from the Leafs lineup last Thursday in Washington, is back in and in demand thanks to injuries to Alex Steen, Alexei Ponikarovsky and call-up Darryl Boyce.
No Leaf has been as constantly disappointing this season as Wellwood, whose creative flair was counted on to bolster the power play as well the second or third line.
But an abdominal injury deprived him of the first five weeks of the season and this season has brought a freefall in his fortunes. He has five goals, two on the power play, in 33 games. Maybe worst of all, he was gently called out by Leafs coach Paul Maurice for a lack of conditioning.
An abdominal injury is notoriously difficult to rehabilitate, it will tax even the most well-conditioned athlete. Wellwood has been ineffective since he came back, his game is built on skating and elusiveness and those two elements have been noticeably absent. It’s hard to see him evolving into the go-to guy over the last two months of the season, but a go-to centreman is exactly what the Leafs need, especially since Mark Bell was a major disappointment before being knocked out by a facial injury.
Wellwood is 24, still a kid, but a valuable year of development has been pretty well wasted. Three times Maurice has listed him as a healthy scratch.
If he is searching for an inspiration, Wellwood should glance in the direction of Carlo Colaiacovo who, like Wellwood, should be starting tonight against the St. Louis Blues.
Colaiacovo played just five games this season after reinjuring a surgically repaired knee. So far, his career has been defined by injury. He has endured the private hell of a concussion. A shot struck him in the side of the head, broke a bone and left him deaf for two weeks. He has lost significant time to due wrist, hand and leg injuries.
In all, Colaiacovo has played just 73 games. By rights, he should have at least twice that many under his belt.
But with each injury, Colaiacovo trains harder and works more diligently to make his way back.
“I’ve been using all my motivation off the ice to get myself back on the ice,” he said Monday. “I’m just grateful for the chance to wake up every morning and still be part of this organization and team. I’m relishing the opportunity to get back."