DETROIT – There are several Red Wings itching to return to full strength following an injury-plagued 2013-14, though it’s likely nobody is more eager to get back to work than Stephen Weiss.
Weiss is recovering from sports hernia surgery Dec. 23. He hoped to return to the Wings’ lineup following the Winter Olympics break last February, but he suffered a setback when nerves became entwined with scar tissue.
“I had a lot of nerve entrapments that were pinching on scar tissue and every time I moved my leg it was like having a root canal on your groin,” said Weiss, who had a subsequent surgery in April. “It was no fun. It took a long time to get that stuff softened up to where I could move in specific ways that we skate without pain. Now there’s no pain. It feels good.
Weiss has been skating on his own for weeks and has been pain-free. He joined teammates for the first time Monday at the Wings’ voluntary practice at Joe Louis Arena.
“It was a tough summer, for sure, going through all of that rehab again and all of the hours of treatment to dig all of the nerves that were trapped in there under the scar tissue,” he said. “It took awhile to get all of that stuff sorted out to where I got my strength back and once I got my strength back 100 percent I was able to start training and slowly get back on the ice, and now I feel good. I haven’t had any setbacks. I feel good going into camp.”
A former first-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers, Weiss averaged 19 goals and 53 points per season between 2006-12. But in his first season with the Red Wings – after signing a five-year contract worth $24.5 million – he suffered through the first 26 games, finishing with just four points before having surgery in Philadelphia.
The setback was more painful than the original injury, and had Weiss worried that it would jeopardize his career.
“I was very nervous about that,” he said. “Anytime that you’re messing around surgically with parts of your body it’s not a fun thing to go through. But it was something that I had to go through to be able to rehab properly and play without pain because when I was playing last year, I mean, you can’t compete in this league when you’re at that level.
“So I had to get it done and really work hard to get strong again. I still have a lot of work to do. I’m not where I want to be, but that’s the nature of what I went through last year; it’s just going to take sometime.”
Weiss said he doesn’t anticipate any physical limitations when the Red Wings head to Traverse City for training camp late next week. With last season in the rearview mirror, he is ready to live up to his contract.
“I’m looking forward to prove that I can still play at a high level and help the team do what they want to do, which is go far into the playoffs and make a run at the Cup,” he said. “It’s been a lot of work trying to get back to where I want to be, so I don’t know if ‘anxious’ is the word. I kinda want to not put a lot of pressure on myself, like I did last year. I just want to do my thing, but it’s going to be a lot of work.”