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Kesler still unsure when he'll be able to return

by Dan Rosen
The only guarantee Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler can offer is that he won't be able to join his teammates on the ice in Vancouver when training camp begins next week. The Canucks center had surgery to repair a tear in his hip in late July and he's nowhere near being ready to play yet.

"Not a chance," Kesler told Friday during the Player Media Tour.

So if he's not ready for training camp, can it be assumed he won't be ready for the start of the season either?

"Uh, maybe, but who knows," Kesler said, hesitating in order to make sure he got his point across. "I'm telling the truth when I tell you I don't know. To be honest, right now if you ask me if I'll be ready for the start of the season, the way I feel right now I'd say no.


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"But things change just like that," he added with a snap of his fingers.

Kesler knows they do. He's worked through this same rehabilitation process before after having a similar surgery in January 2007. He was able to return 10 weeks after surgery -- in time to start the playoffs. The difference, Kesler said, is this time the tear in his hip was bigger, so he has no choice but to spend a longer time rehabbing.

"And obviously I'm older now, so that goes into play, too," Kesler added. "I'm going to take my time and be smart about this, make it right."

Time is something Kesler has had a lot of lately. While his offseason was shorter than usual, what with the Canucks' run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, soon after he had the surgery he spent four weeks at his lake house in Michigan doing a whole lot of nothing.

For a guy who says he's more active during the summer than he is during the season, those four weeks were nightmarish.

"Living on a lake, you always want to be outside and doing something, but it was brutal," said Kesler, who joked about getting familiar with way too many television shows during his time on the couch. "After two weeks I could start swimming in the pool, so at least I could do some stuff."

As difficult as this rehab has been, it's nothing compared to what Kesler was going through during the Stanley Cup Final, when he was trying to be at his best despite being physically incapable of delivering even half of what he's capable.

Kesler kept his mouth shut, never verbally revealing that he was injured even though he knew anybody watching could immediately see something was seriously wrong.

"My wife dealt with a lot of complaining at home," Kesler said. "I'm a guy that wants to help the team win and I couldn't play to my capability. I don't even like to talk about it because it sounds like I'm making an excuse, but I couldn't do it. It was hard. Trying to get out of bed was even tough, but I gave everything I had and I'm proud of that."

Kesler isn't letting his pride get in the way of his recovery.

It wasn't until early this week that he was given the go-ahead from his physical therapist and his orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mark J. Philippon, to ride the exercise bicycle with some resistance. He had been riding 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night, but with no resistance.
"I'm telling the truth when I tell you I don't know. To be honest, right now if you ask me if I'll be ready for the start of the season, the way I feel right now I'd say no." -- Ryan Kesler on his injury status

"It's been boring, but there is a method to their madness and you have to follow it," Kesler said. "Everything is important. (Dr. Philippon) is a very smart guy, way smarter than I'll ever be, and his specialty is hips so I'll follow his program."

Kesler's next step will be a visit to Vail, Colo., this weekend to see Philippon and get his hip tested. He plans to spend four days in Colorado before returning to Michigan in order to pick up his wife and two kids so they can head back to Vancouver together.

"It's progressing and it's getting better," Kesler said. "I skated the other day and felt pretty good. Now it's just strengthening and making it 100 percent. It could be two weeks or it could be eight weeks, who knows?"

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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