For Michal Rozsival, Thursday carries some significance on his long road to recovery.
“I would like to think I’m a quick healer, but obviously the time was something in between four to six months, and I think it’s going to be six months tomorrow since the surgery. So I think I’m right on time with it,” Rozsival said with a smile.
He’s right: Rozsival had surgery to repair his left ankle, fractured in the Blackhawks’ final playoff game against the Minnesota Wild, on May 12. The hard part is just about over; now it’s counting down the days — not weeks or months — until Rozsival is back in the lineup.
Rozsival could play this weekend, according to coach Joel Quenneville; even if it’s not against St. Louis on Saturday or Calgary on Sunday, Rozsival is very close to returning. It’s been a long wait for Rozsival, who has spent these last few months going from no on-ice work at all to solo skates to post-practice skates with a mini parachute attached to his back. He’s now going through the normal workouts/practices with teammates and looking forward to the night he’s back in the lineup.
“Yeah, I'm getting really close, feeling better every day, getting good workouts in practice and kind of getting into all situations out there,” said Rozsival. “It was nice today. We did some 1-on-1s and 2-on-2 battles, which I haven't done much. So it was good to test it out in these situations, as well. Yeah, I'm feeling better every day and hopefully as soon I can get on the ice and start playing games.”
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Quenneville said Rozsival’s recovery continues even with the normal practices, since he’s back to jostling with teammates during drills.
“This is the toughest part, when you’re getting pushed and you’re shoving right now and getting extra skates in there. It can be frustrating at times. It looks like it’s a long way away, but he’s getting closer now to where he can see the lineup and see himself playing,” Quenneville said. “It was tough injury he had to go through, and the rehab’s tougher because it’s an injury (that) when you get back there’s a little history there you have to deal with.”
It’s unknown how much Rozsival will play once he’s back. It’ll depend on how he’s coming off that injury and, as Quenneville always says, his play will dictate how many minutes he logs. It’s more likely Rozsival goes back to rotating with another defenseman in that sixth spot — with cap concerns returning once Rozsival and Duncan Keith come off long-term injured reserve, it’s unlikely the Blackhawks will be able to keep eight defenseman as they did a few years ago.
Regardless, Rozsival is just about back. And after six months of rehab, skating and more skating, that’s a good thing.
“It’s tough, but it's something everybody has to go through to get back into game shape,” Rozsival said. “To tell you the truth, I kind of enjoy the process, too, right now. I'm feeling better and feeling like I'm getting my conditioning back, and feeling like I'm close to a return. So, it's kind ofexciting.”