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Injured Nemeth Brings Smiles and Optimism to Thursday's Practice

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Stars defenseman Patrik Nemeth, who is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with an arm laceration, was at the team’s practice facility in Frisco Thursday morning. And he was in good spirits.

“It’s really nice to be here,” said Nemeth. “It’s going really good. They say everything is great. It’s unbelievable.”

“He was pretty down afterwards, but the conversations I’ve had with him it looks like full recovery,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “It was good to see him around the rink and good to see him smiling.”

Nemeth was injured in the opening minute of the Oct. 18 game against Philadelphia at American Airlines Center. He got tangled up with Flyers forward R.J. Umberger, whose skate came up and cut Nemeth on the right arm.

“He fell down and I kind of got dragged down into it. He landed on his back and his skate came up,” said Nemeth. “There’s nothing he could do about it. There’s nothing I could do about it.

“I knew something hit my arm. I took a peek at it, and it was bleeding. I just wanted to stop the bleeding. It was a little bit worse than I thought it would be. It wasn’t good news.”

Nemeth had surgery the following day.

“There were tendons that were cut and a couple of muscles. It was deep, too. It was pretty serious,” Nemeth said. “I was lucky because it didn’t cut any arteries or nerves really. That’s the positive part.”

The 22-year-old Swede has had some tough luck on the injury front during his three seasons in North America. A concussion, a broken hand and a broken foot all have sidelined Nemeth. Now this latest injury.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “There is nothing I can do about it. I’ve got to wear more protection I guess. The only thing I can do from here is not look back. As soon as I am cleared to work out, I have to work hard and make sure I am in really good shape when I get back.”

As for wearing more protection, Nemeth said he’s already talked to the team’s equipment staff.

“I am going to wear the Kevlar sleeves on my arms and my legs,” he said. “I am going to be a knight out there to try to protect myself.”

Nemeth will have his stitches taken out and see the doctor on Friday, and he’s hoping to get back on the exercise bike next week. While the Stars have said he’s out for the rest of the regular season with a chance of returning for the postseason, Nemeth said he will push to return sooner.

“I want to speed it up as much as possible, but I don’t want to risk my future. So, it’s kind of a balance there,” Nemeth said. “I am seeing a therapist and doing the rehab right now. I am trying to speed this up. The doctor doesn’t like it, but I want to be back out there.”

And Ruff said he liked the young defenseman’s determination.

“That should be any player’s goal, try to recover as quickly as you can,” said Ruff. “I like his thinking. I like his optimism. Usually, when you have that type of optimism, good things happen.”

Practice notes: Nichushkin close to returning

*Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin, who has missed the last seven games with a hip/groin issue, continues to practice. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Nichushkin is close to returning.

“He’s looking good,” Ruff said. “Close to playing.”

*Forwards Antoine Roussel and Patrick Eaves, who both sat out Wednesday’s practice, were back on the ice for Thursday’s session. Ruff said both are fine.

“Up to speed and ready to go,” Ruff said.

*Thursday’s practice included special teams work, and Ales Hemsky saw time on the top power play unit with Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Trevor Daley.

“Again, just options,” Ruff said. “I’d like to get him involved in that top unit maybe every other power play. If it goes well, maybe we keep him there. He was doing a good job with the second unit on entries and stuff. It’s an option that we have.”

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