DETROIT – Frustration doesn’t begin to describe what Carlo Colaiacovo has gone through since sustaining a sprained left shoulder in the second game of the season.
But after visiting with a Toronto doctor earlier this month, the veteran defenseman said Wednesday that he finally feels that he’s on the right road to returning to the Red Wings’ lineup.
“Getting a second opinion on it really helped,” said Colaiacovo, who has missed 26 games this season. “He saw some things there that were of some concern. I've dealt with them, I've treated them. I've been getting myself to the point where I'm close to 100 percent.”
As the playoff race heats up in the Western Conference, the Red Wings certainly could use the blue line depth that Colaiacovo could provide, especially since they’re down to eight healthy defensemen after Kyle Quincey suffered a fractured cheekbone last week. It’s expected that Quincey will miss 4-6 weeks, but he still may need surgery to repair multiple fractures, which could change his prognosis.
Getting a healthy Colaiacovo back on the blue line is a plus, especially because he plays a solid positioning brand that allows him to be defensively responsible.
But since suffering a serious head injury in 2006-07, injuries have followed Colaiacovo like a dark cloud, from Toronto to St. Louis and now to Detroit. He’s missed at least 15 games in each of the last four seasons. But this season is his longest on injured reserve since knee surgery forced him to miss 54 games in 2007-08.
“The season’s winding down, the games are getting more important, the last thing I want to do is force myself out there and put myself in a vulnerable position,” Colaiacovo said.
While Colaiacovo feels that he could be cleared “in days”, he’s still cautious and doesn’t want to get too overly excited again.
“I kept giving myself different goals and different bench marks to reach and when I got to those points it just wasn't ready,” he said. “I had a little bit of a concerning issues I needed to deal with. I dealt with them and now it's at a point where I'm doing the things I need to do to make sure it's ready to go.”
Unlike most players who return from a long layoff, Colaiacovo has maintained a high-level of conditioning as the shoulder hasn’t limited his skating or other workouts.
“I can tell you my conditioning is not going to be an issue,” he said. “I've been skating real hard and training real hard both on and off the ice. I'll be pretty close to where I need to be. … I'm confident in my abilities that when I get out there the rust will settle pretty quick and I'll be back to where I need to be.”
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