Stars forward Mattias Janmark won't play this season, but he's making progress as he recovers from the knee surgery he underwent in late September. Janmark has skated a few times with the team recently, and he took part in Wednesday's practice in Frisco. It's a step forward in a long recovery process.
"It's fun. I've been on a few morning skates, but practice is a step further," Janmark said. "It's fun skating on the ice. It feels pretty good, but it's hard to say because I am not going too hard. You could try to push it but there is no reason, and I don't think I feel good enough to do it."
Janmark underwent surgery on September 30, a little more than a week into training camp, to correct a congenital condition called osteochondritis dissecans. Stars GM Jim Nill explained the issue during training camp.
"It's a condition that develops in joints due to a lack of blood supply in that area," Nill said. "What happened with Mattias is he had a small segment, approximately 21 millimeters by 11 millimeters, that became displaced and it's locked in his knee."
The surgery involved doctors taking that segment of bone and reattaching it. The recovery time was put at five to six months. Janmark is almost six months into the recovery process, and it's been a long, tough road.
"I knew it was going to be a tough recovery and I've been trying to work with what I can," Janmark said. "There's been no backlashes, it's just going slowly, and it's hard to know exactly where you are at."
Janmark has been dealing with the issue since his youth. It first appeared in his right knee when he was about 12 or 13, he said, but he outgrew it. Then, it struck the left knee a few years later. He couldn't outgrow it this time, but he learned to manage it. There were good weeks, and there were bad ones.
"I could have trouble walking. It was really stiff. It was bad in the mornings, trouble walking stairs and stuff with the knee a little bit bent," Janmark said. "But on the ice, it's been pretty good because it is a pretty smooth movement. On bad weeks, it would be stiff the first 10-15 minutes, and then it would get better and better. And then by the night, after you've been up walking and skating in the morning skate, it would be gone.
"But it's nothing you can't handle. I've just had to adjust the off-ice workouts for a lot of years to try to prevent this from happening. But when you are an athlete you have to work hard, and eventually something can happen."
Last season, there were few problems for Janmark. He said the high number of games played in the NHL was beneficial. It's the off-ice work that can cause problems. And Janmark put together an impressive rookie season, registering 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) and a plus-12 rating in 73 games. The Stars have missed him this season.
"First, would be his speed. Second, would be his versatility and to play so well with so many different players," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "He's a guy we could play in the middle when we had struggles through the middle of the ice. He was a guy you could play on the wing that could help out a centerman that was struggling. But it started with the speed of his game. You look at his first couple of goals last season, he'd beat somebody up ice, or he'd beat somebody going to the net. He was an important part of the speed game."
But in the offseason, as he began to prepare for training camp, the knee started to become an issue, and it got gradually worse in September.
"The first week of camp was really bad. And then it popped out," Janmark said. "I've been trying to deal with the way I can. It got me here. I am glad it happened when it happened. It got me through the men's league in Sweden and then got me over here. It could have happened earlier, and I wouldn't have had the resources they have here, so I am grateful for that."
Moving forward, Janmark said he'll step up the process and push harder to see where it takes him and how the knee reacts. When he had the surgery, the Stars said there was an 80 percent chance of a full recovery. The tests he has had since the procedure have been good. Janmark has his sights set on being ready for training camp in September, but he said time will tell.
"I for sure expect to be ready by camp. I'll probably have some hints during the summer, but for sure that's my goal," Janmark said. "If I am not ready by then, then I am going to have to start looking at options. That's a long time, that's almost 12 months [since the surgery]. But I for sure expect to be ready by then. Absolutely."
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.