GLENDALE, Ariz. – While most of his teammates are enjoying two days away from hockey this weekend, Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski continues to prepare for a return to the lineup this week. Jovanovski has not played since fracturing multiple orbital bones after a collision with Atlanta’s Patrice Cormier in a game played on Feb. 17.
I had a chance to chat with Jovanovski to discuss his return to the team for the final week of the regular season and the playoffs. Below is the transcript of our conversation:
Q: Can you talk about where you are at this point and how close you are to getting back in the lineup?
A: “The progress is going well. It’s been a few good weeks of skating, getting into practice situations, timing. I’m looking forward to getting back into the action this week.”
Q: The Coyotes will close the season with three games in four nights starting Wednesday in LA. Might we see you play in all three games or do you think you’re going to ease yourself back in?
A: “I think if I play I’ll be itching to finish the season and get ready for the playoffs… It all depends on the coaches and the trainers, and what they feel is the best situation for me. Right now my focus is getting into a game and seeing how it goes and moving on from there.”
Q: You’ve been out of the lineup for quite some time and you’ve been working hard to return. Does it feel like a second training camp?
A: “It’s almost worse than training camp. Anytime you’re getting ready to play and coming off an injury there’s a lot of work that goes into it as far as working in the gym and doing rehab, and also the worst part, getting on the ice. There’s nothing like skating and getting put through the paces. So, it’s been a challenging few weeks, but hopefully it pays off when I get back to playing again.”
Q: You’ve been wearing the full cage on your helmet for protection. Do you plan to wear it for the games as well, or might you go to a visor or back to nothing at all?
A: “No, I’ll wear the cage for the games.”
Q: What’s that like?
A: “It’s different. Obviously, I haven’t worn one in 20 years, but I think it’s something that needs to be there just for the extent of the injury. But it’s something you’ve got to get used to and I’ve had it on for a few weeks now and I’m getting used to it.”
Q: Your injury is unique so here is a unique question. How do you rehabilitate your face?
A: “Well, it’s pretty much just time. I think there’s a lot of down time after surgery when the bones heal. But I think also when you start skating and you’re off for a few weeks and you start back up, your whole body goes into a shutdown mode where your body aches. It’s just getting rehab on my whole body and a lot of massage and getting the joints working, so when I do come back I feel 100 percent.”
Q: How eager are you to get back in the lineup, especially at this time of year, and how do you like where the team is in the standings and how it’s playing going into the playoffs?
A: “I’ve been itching to play for a week. I feel like I’m ready to play now. As far as the team goes, I like where the team is right now. Despite all the injuries, my teammates have been going on and finding ways to put points in the bank. I think that speaks volumes for our group. Guys have been thrown into action and given extra ice time and they are doing a great job at it. The coaching staff has done a great job of motivating the guys, although I don’t think there’s much motivating that needs to go on right now…It’s always nice to come back to a team when a team is winning. Having guys playing well will make for an easier transition for the guys that are coming back in the lineup.”