Photo by John Russell
Steve Sullivan scored a hat trick--his second as a Predator--at home last season against Dallas.
During the 2005-06 season, forward Steve Sullivan proved to be the dynamic player the Predators expected when they signed him to a lengthy contract in the summer of 2005. In his first full season with Nashville, he finished second in scoring, posting 68 points in 69 games. He also netted 31 goals, setting a new franchise record. Late in the season he suffered an injury that was eventually diagnosed as a sports hernia. He returned to play all five playoff games, but at less than 100 percent by his own admission. He had surgery to repair the injury in May. Sullivan, who spends much of the summer in his hometown of Timmins, Ontario, recently returned to Nashville and made an appearance Wednesday at Predators Hockey School--currently under way at Centennial Sportsplex.
Q. How is your recovery from your sports hernia surgery going?
A. It's going really well. I think it's been probably seven weeks or around there and rehab is going really good. This is the first time I've been on skates--[Tuesday] and then [Wednesday]--and it's limited ice time, but from what we're doing out there right now I don't feel it. I'm definitely confident that by camp I'll be 100 percent ready to go.
Q. What kind of activities have you been doing to rehab?
A. We've just really been focusing on the core area. Focusing on strengthening that area. I had a regular hernia surgery done in '03, so that area there has been weakened quite a bit. With the training staff and Dave Good, our strengthening coach, I'm just really working on those two areas to make sure that it's as strong as it can be.
Q. Is this the worst injury you've had as an NHL player?
A. This is the longest I've sat out. It's the most games I've sat out because of injury, so it's very frustrating. Especially the timing of it--not being able to be 100 percent going into the playoffs. Hopefully this is the end of it and we've rectified the situation and I'll be ready to go.
Q. How will recent free-agent acquisition Jason Arnott help the Predators?
A. He's going to help us with his size. He's a point-a-game guy so, obviously, an extra 80 points for our team is going to be huge. And I think he just fits in. You don't hear a bad word around the league about Jason Arnott. You only hear good things about him and I think that he'll fit in our dressing room. He brings a lot of character, a lot of leadership. In that respect, you can never have too much of that. He's just going to really add size to our forwards. It's something that we've been lacking for the last couple years. Since I've been here we've always been known as small forwards. Just putting him in the lineup in the middle, he's going to really help us in that physical aspect.
Q. When defenseman Marek Zidlicky re-signed earlier this summer, he signed a four-year deal. Arnott was signed for five years and your most recent contract, signed before the 2005-06 season, was a lengthy one at four years. Do you think these longer contracts are part of the "new NHL"?
A. I think so. I think it's the norm. I think knowing that you're only allowed to spend so much, you spend your dollars wisely but you also have an idea of where you're going to be. There's a lot more of a budgeting aspect and I think that teams are able to budget a lot better now knowing that there is a ceiling and where they want to be in that range of things. So I think that's the new NHL and I think that's the way it's going to be.
Q. You're an avid golfer. How many rounds do you think you've played since the end of the season?
A. I haven't been able to play because of the sports hernia. I've only started playing about two or three weeks ago.
Q. That had to be painful in its own right, not being able to play golf?
A. Trust me. A lot more than you know. So I bet you I've only got--I played [Tuesday] here in town, so I've probably got 10 to 12 rounds in this summer. But there's a lot of summer left and I'm planning on hitting the links quite a bit.