Toughness has always been an integral part of J.F. Jacques repertoire. The 6’4”, 217 lbs. winger is always physical and always a candidate for a fight. Yet it was a scrap in the AHL last January that put Jacques where he is now: on the road to recovery after surgery on a herniated disc late in September.
“It’s been really tough...the worst part was the first six or seven months,” Jacques said of the long period between that fateful fight and his surgery. “I couldn’t do anything for so long that I went through a lot of emotions, a lot of ups and downs.”
It probably didn’t help that Jacques had a good chance of making this year’s team considering the Oilers’ need for physicality. But Jacques has weathered the storm of negativity, the months of pain, and a month of post-surgery inactivity where most of the day was spent lying down.
“The last three or four weeks after the surgery I really started to get excited about the healing process,” Jacques said on Saturday. “I’ve been able to jump on the exercise bike for 25 or 30 minutes and I’ve started to jog lightly and do core and leg exercises at physiotherapy so it’s been really encouraging the last few weeks.”
Despite Jacques’ positive recovery thus far, a nine-month layoff takes some work to overcome. As well as being medically sound for full-on skating, there’s the issue of conditioning to work on.
“Maybe (I’ll be) skating in two to four weeks—maybe...we really don’t know for sure,” Jacques said. “We don’t really have a timeframe for when I’m going to start playing again but I’m going to need a couple weeks, if not a full month, to get my game-shape back.”
With an uncertain timeframe, all Jacques can do is continue his recovery and training. But for a player who’s been sidelined for the better part of a year, the itch for hockey is palpable—especially considering the Oilers’ activity in calling up farmhands this season.
“It would be nice to get back, Jacques said. “I don’t really know what the future is for this season but...I hope I can get back and help the team as soon as possible.”
Jacques, Edmonton’s second round choice (68th overall) in the 2003 draft, had 11 goals and 14 assists in 38 games last season for the Springfield Falcons. He was scoreless in nine games with the Oilers in 2007-08.