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Watson hopes to return this season after successful surgery

by Matt Tidcombe @matttidcombe

When Austin Watson blocked a shot in the dying seconds of Ottawa's 2-1 win over Calgary on March 22, he felt some pain but didn't think much of it right away.

He certainly didn't think he would wind up with a fracture in his thumb and hand.

"I came off the ice and thought it was more dislocated than broken but the bone was displaced and out of where it should have been," he said. "There's something different when you actually injure something rather than when you hurt it. It's a weird burning, numbing sensation. The pain wasn't all that bad but the hand and thumb didn't look correct."

Watson, who was acquired from Nashville during the offseason, had three goals and 10 points in 34 games alongside 40 penalty minutes while averaging 12:00 a night.

More crucially, Watson was a key member of the Sens' penalty kill where he averaged 2:07 a night when his team was down a man.

Even more than a week after his injury, Watson continues to lead all forwards in the NHL in blocked shots with 49. At the time of his injury, Watson's 100 hits had him ranked 10th in the league.

Now he's focused on what he hopes is a brief road to recovery.

"They went ahead and repaired everything and pinned everything back in place," Watson said. "Hopefully it heals quick and I can get back out there as soon as possible but everything went well with the surgery so I'm good on that front."

The hardest part Watson says is that with a fractured hand, he literally can't play. He's previously played through a bilateral hernia, broken ribs and a broken foot during his NHL career, but with a hand injury, he has no option but to sit.

"When it's something like this with your hand, you literally can't play," Watson said. "In this situation, there's no option. You kind of get taken out of things and you have to wait and let it heal which is the most frustrating part."

The initial prognosis was a 4-6 week recovery time. The Senators' final regular season game is scheduled for May 12, 43 days from today. Or more simply, a day over six weeks.

"If there's an opportunity for me to play at all this year then I'm going to want to do that," he said. "But that all just depends on how everything heals. This is my job and what I get paid to do. I'm not sitting here ready to look towards next September."

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