If there was one member of the Buffalo Sabres that was glad to see the Olympic break arrive, it was Patrick Kaleta
After all, if he wasn’t able to skate at least no one else was either.
Kaleta has been off the ice since Feb. 1 when he was struck by a shot during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The winger suffered from some bad bruising on his foot and although he attempted to practice with the team before the 2010 Winter Games began, he couldn’t get the mobility he needed.
“Before the break, I could have played,” Kaleta said. “I probably wouldn’t have been really effective… but now I feel confident in the strength and the movement.
“[The break came at] the perfect time. It gave me time to rest.”
While the majority of his teammates traveled to warmer climates or visited family away from Buffalo, Kaleta said he didn’t get too far.
He spent most of his 10 days off at home in Angola, NY and tried to rehabilitate his sore foot.
“I’ve had too much time off already this year so I needed to get healthy and get back out there,” he said. “It’s progressing each day and I felt better today than I did yesterday.”
The winger has missed 19 games this season with various injuries, including six due to the most recent ailment. And while Kaleta has made it known that he despises sitting out, even he had to admit that it was beneficial to be away from hockey for at least a few days.
“It was good to be away from the rink and do nothing, because if we had the option to skate I probably would have,” he said. “Even though I couldn’t skate backwards or do anything like that, I’d push myself if the team needed me to.”
Kaleta joined the Sabres who weren’t still active in the Olympics on Wednesday afternoon for the team’s first official practice. They will continue to ramp up the conditioning today at the Coca-Cola Center in Amherst, and prepare for their next opponent when they travel to Pittsburgh on March 1.
“You progress,” Kaleta said, regarding what he and the team will be doing this week on the ice. “You get out there and get a decent skate in.
“You don’t want to push everyone to where they’re coming back and pulling a groin - hurting the team rather than helping - you just keep progressing. [Today] we’ll go harder and Friday the same and keep building up towards the game.
“As a team we want to have a strong start… pick up and play the way we know how to play and start progressing as a team. We have to be a power house.”