|Jan Mursak is aiming for a return to the Red Wings' lineup around Christmas. (Photo by Dave Reginek) |
– It’s one thing to be a rookie in a big city. But it’s a completely different to be a first-year player whose thousands of miles away from home and on injured reserve.
Rookie forward Jan Mursak
has been out of the Red Wings’ lineup since suffering a fractured left ankle in a preseason game vs. Chicago on Sept. 25. Just the frustration of not being on the ice for nearly three months can be overwhelming at times, Mursak said.
The first few weeks, especially with the cast and having to navigate on crutches wasn’t a pleasant experience, Mursak said. At least the cast was on his left foot, which meant he still could drive his car to and from Joe Louis Arena.
“After the cast, when I started walking, it was a lot better,” Mursak said. “I could workout more and do a lot more stuff.”
But keeping busy in the gym and going to physical therapy can only go so far, leaving plenty of down time, especially when his teammates were on the road. So when Mursak wasn’t hitting the gym or doing rehab, he was spending time with his girlfriend, Victoria, and his dog, an American bulldog and boxer mix named Zara.
“In the last few years I didn’t really have much time to spend with my dog,” said Mursak, who enjoys taking Zara for hour-long walks twice a day. “This is the first year that I actually had her staying with me and I’ve been spending a lot of time with my girlfriend and the dog. I kept busy with them, so I wasn’t bored at all, it was all good.”
A native of Slovenia, Mursak returned to skating a few weeks ago. He was on the ice for the beginning of the Wings’ morning skate Thursday at JLA, where he hopes to soon return to practice full-time with the team.
“Hopefully I’ll be back playing again soon, too,” he added.
If things work out, Mursak said, he’ll be ready to make his season debut right around Christmas.
“I’m in pretty good shape,” he said. “I’ve been working hard in the gym, and on the ice today I was surprised how good it went, and hopefully the leg gets stronger and I’ll be back playing soon.
“I’m really anxious, it’s been awhile. I’ve been waiting for the time that I can start playing again and get back in the hockey rhythm.”
Then the ‘real’ hard part starts for Mursak, who once healthy must break into the Wings’ lineup.
“It was frustrating just because it happened right before the regular season even started,” he said. “Now it will be hard to come back and play on the level that the other guys are playing. I’ve been working out pretty hard and hopefully it will be easier than I think. But we have a lot of good players here, so I’ll have to fight for that spot in the regular lineup.”Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill