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Notebook: Stuart back on ice

by Dave Burke / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – Sidelined since early January, defenseman Brad Stuart practiced for the first time with the Red Wings on Monday since suffering a broken jaw. Although he was limited, and he wore protective face shield, just being out on the ice with his team was relief.

“Yeah, it felt good,” said Stuart, who had been recuperating at home in California. “Actually practiced more than I thought I would.”

Stuart, who had surgery to repair the damage caused when he was hit by Calgary’s Tom Kostopoulus, no longer has the jaw wired shut, but he does have elastic bands in place.

“I’ll probably have to wear them 10-14 days, and then they said I might have to keep them on when I get back,” Stuart said. “It just helps keep them stable and reduces the risk a little bit.”

As far as food goes, Stuart is still on a strict diet of soft foods and liquids, but can’t wait to have “a big ol’ pizza” when permitted by doctors.

Stuart took the high road when asked if he holds resentment against Kostopoulos, who received a six-game suspension from the NHL for the blindside hit.

“Of course I’m a little upset it happened,” Stuart said. “It cost me six weeks or more of the season depending on how things go. I was sure they would do something and they did. There’s no reason for me to debate whether it’s long enough. It happened, he served his suspension and it’s over. I’m just moving forward, that’s all I can do.”

While he’s disappointing in missing so many games, Stuart was happy to spend some much needed time with his family.

“Seeing the kids was good, all things considered,” he said. “They make you not feel as down or depressed.”

LIKELY RETURNS: Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary are both hopeful that they’ll be back in the line-up when the Red Wings travel to Ottawa for a game against the Senators on Wednesday.

But coach Mike Babcock wasn’t so convinced. “We’ll have to see how both of them feel (Tuesday),” Babcock said. “I know how these things work.”

VACATION TIME: Most of the Red Wings took advantage of the four-day All-Star break by heading out of town on mini-vacations.

Mike Modano, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl and Justin Abdelkader headed for fun in the sun, while Niklas Kronwall and Ruslan Salei went west, and Jimmy Howard stayed close to home.

Modano, who has been out of the Red Wings’ lineup since Nov.26, traveled to Cabo San Lucas for a few days. It’s a place that he and his wife, Willa Ford, fell in love with during his playing days in Dallas, which is approximately a two-hour flight away from the Mexican resort town.

Modano (right hand) participated in the Red Wings’ practice Monday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena. Afterward, he said that while he still feels some discomfort in the middle of his right palm and tingling in the tip of the middle finger, he would like to return sooner than mid-March, the original targeted return.

“I think we can return sooner, maybe by the end of February,” said Modano, who had two goals and six assists in 20 games prior to severing tendons and nerves when he was accidentally cut by a skate against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Ericsson also traveled to Mexico where he visited Mayan ruins. “I went down to Mexico and really just relaxed," he said. "No surfing or anything, just went and visited the Mayan ruins.”

Kindl and Abdelkader sought the warm weather of South Beach in Miami, where they even took in an NBA game at American Airlines Arena when the Heat hosted the Detroit Pistons last Friday.

“It was very relaxing,” Kindl said. “The beach was a lot of fun, and the basketball game was a real good. The Pistons actually had the lead for the whole game.”

Salei went home to California for a few days where his wife and two children still live. Kronwall and his girlfriend relaxed in Vail, Colo., and Howard and his wife spent time in northern Michigan at Boyne Mountain.

“It was great,” Howard said. “It snowed like crazy on Thursday and Friday. It was a lot of fun.”

All rested and ready to restart the regular-season, Kronwall believes that the remaining schedule favors the Red Wings, who will play 16 of the final 33 games at JLA.

“February is a short month and we have quite a few home games in March,” the Red Wings defenseman said. “We’re on the back end of the schedule, so it’s all down hill now.” Managing Editor Bill Roose contributed to this report

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