Among the Sens' notable absences this year has been Guillaume Latendresse
. He had been filling a top-6 role and trying to get his legs back under him after missing the better part of the year with Minnesota last season before being knocked out in late January with a whiplash injury.
The big forward is nearing a return and actually practiced with the team yesterday for the first time since his injury.
Here is his condition update:
On if he's close to returning:
Yes. I think right now it's more of the conditioning part. I think I've missed four or five weeks so I think I'll stick in Ottawa for the rest of the week and skate by myself and feel the box skate, get the legs going, the lungs going. But yeah, I don't want to put pressure on mself because sometimes you have setbacks but I feel confident right now, practicing the last three or four days, going hard in the gym, going hard on the ice. I feel awesome. I'm really positive but I don't want to put a timeframe on myself.
On the nature of his injury:
It was the neck and we found out it was a little migraine problem. I'm really tolerant of pain and I don't like taking advils or things like that so my brain got used to pain so now when I have symptoms it says that all the normal things that you do create pain instead of the normal things. It's more of a migraine problem that I have. So it was the neck and the migraines. It was a really positive trip for me to Michigan to visit that neurologist, it changed the way I was thinking and it's awesome.
On how the injury happened and recovery:
The hit against Montreal when (Colby) Armstrong hit me, I felt right away my neck was tight so we didn't want to take any chances with my history. Then we started and I was feeling better and my neck was feeling better and that's why we went to see that guy in Michigan and finally it turned out that it's great, it's awesome so it's really positive.
On when he may return:
We'll see. I don't want to put a timeframe. When I'm going to be available is the coaches decision too. Sometimes you're ready to go and the team's playing well and they're on a roll and don't want to change anything so I don't want to put pressure on myself and say it'll be Monday or Wednesday. It's going to be when it's going to be. That's it, I think. I just want to work hard and make sure that I'm ready when they say 'Gui, you're in' and I'll be ready to go.
On how the migraines affected him:
Even the past year when we were saying concussions, I think it was maybe more migraines than anything. It creates everything like a concussion so you feel all the symptoms but it's not a concussion, it's a migraine. It makes everything harder in life because your head is giving you the symptoms.
On his injury history:
Talking to that guy, that's what he said. Short term, long term, there's no danger. He wouldn't even use the concussion word for last year and it just creates all the symptoms. He said people who have that know it's a pretty bad feeling to have but it's good to know it's just that but you can still play and feel good and have your energy back, it's awesome.
All in all this is an incredibly positive update from Latendresse, as the nature of whiplash injuries and migraine problems can have long term implications for players that extend well beyond the month or so that Latendresse has already missed. Some will recall former NHLer Jason Allison missed roughly two full seasons because of whiplash related issues.
It's nasty business.
One thing that should be clear, however, is multiple players returning from injury is a very good sign for a team that has held down playoff positioning in spite of their collective absences. It'll be all hands on deck to wrap up this condensed schedule.