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Training Camp

Flames dealing with injuries as training camp begins

Mikael Backlund out with concussion, Sean Monahan slowed by back problems

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

CALGARY -- Center Mikael Backlund's return to the Calgary Flames is unknown after a concussion sustained playing for Team Sweden at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

Flames general manager Brad Treliving confirmed the injury at the start of training camp Thursday but didn't know when Backlund will be ready to play.

"Reports back are he's doing well," Treliving said. "Like these injuries, he's under the [concussion] protocol right now. It's sort of a day-to-day situation. We'll monitor. Mikael will be staying there the next couple of days with our group. We'll come up with a plan after that."

Backlund, who set NHL career highs in goals (21) and points (47) in 82 games in 2015-16, was injured Tuesday in a preliminary-round game against Team Finland. There's no timetable for his return.

"You never know," Treliving said. "You don't know. It's not necessarily one where you can sit here and say. Having said that, our group saw him yesterday. He was doing good. He was feeling good. His symptom scores were low. But these are serious. You deal with them. You hope for the best."

Backlund's injury isn't the only one the Flames are dealing with. A back strain sustained during offseason training by center Sean Monahan forced him to withdraw from playing for Team North America at the World Cup and will limit the 21-year-old's on-ice activity at the start of camp.

Monahan, who had an NHL career-high 63 points (27 goals, 36 assists) in 81 games last season, signed a seven-year contract reportedly worth $44.625 million on Aug. 19.

"He's progressing," Treliving said. "He's doing well. We just want to be cautious with it. He's going to take the first couple of days and continue on some individual work. We'll get through the first little bit, probably at least the first three preseason games. Our plan is having him available looking at those last three or four preseason games to prepare him for the season. We just want to be cautious with him."

Monahan was initially expected to be ready when camp opened.

Defenseman Ladislav Smid isn't expected to play this season because of a neck injury. He had surgery on his neck in 2010 and again in February 2015.

"Everyone knows [Ladislav] has been through a lot with his neck," Treliving said. "We talked pretty regularly over the course of the summer. After seeing our doctors here, [he] will not be playing this year. He's had a long history with it. Right now, physically, he's not able to go.

"We're going to look at [Ladislav] doing some projects for us, in terms of in the front office and maybe having some scouting assignments for him and integrating him in there. But he won't be participating on the ice."

Smid has played a total of 53 games for the Flames during the past two seasons.

"I'm only 30 years old, so I would like to be out there helping the team, but it is what it is," Smid said. "You have only one health. It's not like I'm retiring. But for this year, I'm going to have to sit out. It's obviously hard, but it's not a decision we made overnight. We talked the whole summer. It wasn't just my decision. It was doctors. I heard so many different opinions. We made the decision together.

"My family comes first. I want to be healthy for them and I want to have a normal life after my career. At this point it would be too big of a risk, I feel like, to try to play through my neck issues. I think the year will help me. Hopefully my neck will settle down a little more. Maybe I'll come back and try to play hockey. Maybe not. Maybe I'll try to do something else."

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