|While Jared Cowen went through the same fitness testing drills as the rest of the participants in Senators rookie camp, he won't be joining them for the four-team tournament in Kitchener (Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).
For almost everyone at Ottawa Senators rookie camp, it was one last taste of the ice before hitting the road.
But while his teammates head off for some game action at a rookie tournament in Kitchener, Ont., Jared Cowen
will spend one more day getting familiar with his home away from home.
The Senators strength and conditioning centre has been workout central for the Senators' top pick (ninth overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Off-ice training has been a regular way of life for Cowen since he underwent major knee surgery in February to repair a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee.
That ended his season with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League and he's still waiting for the green light to play again.
"Summer for me has been going to the gym every day," said Cowen, who is being kept off the ice during rookie camp. "There's been no skating with the boys or doing 3-on-3s or something like that. It'll be nice to get back out there and have some fun on the ice.
"I'm just going to stay here (during the rookie tournament) and keep doing what I've been doing. It's obviously working, so there's no sense messing around with it ... There's been some good progress here in the last couple of weeks."
Cowen has no idea yet when he'll be cleared for contact by Senators doctors and that's perhaps the most frustrating thing about the longest waiting game of his young life.
"It's kind of impossible to say," said Cowen, 18, of Allan, Sask. "It's sort of been day to day. I can feel good one day and lousy the next day. We'll see. It's so hard to tell.
"You feel so rusty and all you want to do is get back to how you felt before the injury. It's only going to take time before it gets there. That's the frustrating thing."
Still, when Cowen got in some light scrimmaging with some Senators veterans at the Bell Sensplex last week, it did a lot to put a smile on his face.
"It's sort of been day to day. I can feel good one day and lousy the next day. We'll see. It's so hard to tell. You feel so rusty and all you want to do is get back to how you felt before the injury. It's only going to take time before it gets there. That's the frustrating thing." - Jared Cowen
"When I first scrimmaged, I felt like I hadn't done it in a couple of years now," he said. "It was nice to get out of the gym and play some hockey. I feel like I've been doing bodybuilding here for awhile. So it was nice to actually play some hockey for once in a while.
"Scrimmaging was fun. I'm a little out of shape, though, and you could definitely tell. Cardio (training) is going to be a big deal here for me."
The Senators plan to bring Cowen to their main training camp, which gets underway next weekend at Scotiabank Place. He expects to be in Ottawa "until I'm fully healthy and can play a game. As long as that takes, I guess."
What the Senators do with him once he's game-ready hasn't been decided yet, though Cowen would no doubt like to wear Team Canada's colours at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, which is being played in his home province in Saskatoon and Regina. The knee injury also kept him from attending the national junior team's summer orientation camp but Hockey Canada surely has the 6-foot-5, 220-pound blueliner on its radar screen.
"Obviously, I want to play here," said Cowen. "It could take me a while to feel comfortable out there and get back to season form. I've never had an injury like this before, so I have no idea how it's going to go. (Where he plays) is kind of up in the air right now."