ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Francois Beauchemin hardly looked like he was easing back into hockey on the first day of training camp for the Anaheim Ducks.
Most players take part in one of three on-ice sessions, but the defenseman was in back-to-back hour-long skates and did all the drills, without taking contact. It was Beauchemin’s call, and he made coaches a little nervous when he bumped up against Emerson Etem.
"They said 'OK, back off, back off,'" Beauchemin said. "But I just wasn't going to let him beat me wide."
Beauchemin is less than four months removed from May 16 surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, an injury that can take up to six months to heal. He said his goal is to play in the season opener.
"I'm right where I want it to be because that's the same timing I had when I hurt my other knee [in 2009]," the 33-year-old said. "I came back playing at 4 1/2 months, and I think I’m right on time to do that now.”
Beauchemin played the final month of last season with the tear, after a pinch play against the
Dallas Stars in which the opposing player’s hip hit him and hyper-extended the knee. He said he was shocked when the MRI came up with a torn ACL.
Beauchemin formed a terrific pairing with Sheldon Souray last season, but Souray is out with a wrist injury until at least November. That Beauchemin is doing this much activity at this point is a welcome sight for coach Bruce Boudreau.
"Goodness," Boudreau said. "It's a six-month injury, and it's just over three months since the surgery, so I'd have to say [he’s] way ahead. We want to make sure that we don't push it too quick. If [Beauchemin] had his way, he’d be playing on Monday, but we've to keep in the reins and do it a little slower.”
This is the second straight year Beauchemin is coming off a major injury, having torn a labrum in his shoulder after the 2011-12 season.
"Two straight years with no vacation at the end of the year and just surgeries," Beauchemin said. "I'm looking forward to relaxing a little bit and enjoy the summer more [next year]."