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Ex-Shark Malhotra appears on ice with Canucks

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Ex-Shark Malhotra appears on ice with Canucks

May 13, 2011

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (APCSN) Even though Manny Malhotra still can't play for the Canucks, his surprise return to the ice Thursday provided a pick-me-up to his Vancouver teammates.

Out with a career-threatening eye injury since being hit by a deflected puck on March 16, Malhotra skated with the team for the first time since being hurt as the Canucks began to prepare for the Western Conference finals against the San Jose Sharks.

San Jose advanced Thursday night with a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7.

RELATED: Sharks-Canucks series schedule

Associate Coach Rick Bowness said there was "no chance" Malhotra, who already had at least two operations on his injured left eye, was coming back during these playoffs. Still, the Canucks were happy to see him.

"It was a thrill for all of us to see him on the ice," Bowness said. "Getting back in the room and getting ready for practice, there's always excitement back in the air - we're getting back at, we're getting ready for the next round - but when Manny walks in and goes on the ice with them ... it just gave everyone an extra boost and the guys really enjoyed having him on the ice with them."

Wearing a Canucks-colored tracksuit and full-face shield on his helmet, Malhotra skated around before practice. He even joined the team for warm-up drills and took part in few line rushes before returning to the bench after 15 minutes.

"Just a couple shifts, but it was nice to see him out," goalie Roberto Luongo said. "To be on the ice with the boys like that, it was really special."

It's not like Malhotra hasn't been around during the playoffs.

Named an assistant captain in the first season of a three-year, 7.5 million deal he signed as a free agent, the 12-year NHL veteran has become an extra coach during the playoffs.

He's in penalty kill meetings for a unit he helped lead the league in the regular season, and dishes advice on everything from shooting to faceoffs, which he was second in the NHL at 61.7 per cent.

Bowness compared it to seeing Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby, out with a concussion, wearing a headset while watching the Penguins play in the playoffs.

"He's helping out a lot," added forward Daniel Sedin. "Everyone respects his opinion and he's been around this league for a long time so guys are going to listen when he talks. He's being a good, positive impact on a lot of guys."

Malhotra's advice could become more meaningful in the Western Conference finals - Vancouver's first trip this deep into the playoffs since 1994 - especially because the Canucks will open the series at home against San Jose on Sunday. Malhotra played last season for the Sharks.

"He gives tips on what's going on in the game," defenseman Sami Salo said. "He sees the game from upstairs and the TV so he has little inside scoops."

Malhotra, 30, still hasn't addressed the media other than releasing an April 6 statement thanking the surgeons, organization and fans for their support. His teammates are thankful for his support in the postseason.

"He's so positive every day even with what he's gone through," Salo said.

Salo knows better than most how hard that can be. He missed the first four and a half months of the season recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon suffered last summer, yet another injury in a career filled with injuries.

"It is tough, especially when the team is in the playoffs right now," Salo said, "but he's been really positive and supportive and it's been good to have him in the locker room. That shows you what kind of a great character he is."

And why he was such a good candidate to be an assistant captain so soon.

"Maybe he should have an A on his T-shirt right now," Salo said.

Bowness said Malhotra won't need the A for his jersey anytime soon. The team announced Malhotra's season was over just a few days after a hard pass glanced off a stick and struck him in the left eye, and that hasn't changed.

"Unless there is a complete miracle, no chance," Bowness said of a playoff return. "He's getting a little workout with the guys, it's a big thrill for all of us to see him back on the ice, but nothing has changed."

In terms of Malhotra's impact off the ice, that's a good thing.

Malhotra spent the 2009-10 season with the Sharks, signing as an unrestricted free agent just prior to the start of the season. He scored a career-high 14 goals before signing with the Canucks last summer.

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

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AP

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season. 

What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

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What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Bay Area sports teams and your favorite players have plenty to be thankful for this year. 

Check out how the teams and players are celebrating Thanksgiving in 2017.