Gudbranson on road to recovery Ottawa native happy to be out of his parents’ house, back in Florida after wakeboarding injury
SUNRISE, Fla. — Florida Panthers defenceman Erik Gudbranson wanted to make sure there was no confusion and no hard feelings about the shoulder injury he suffered while wakeboarding in September. That’s why he called each and every one of his teammates during the lockout.
“These are the guys I work with,” said Gudbranson, a 21-year-old Ottawa native who had surgery on the shoulder. “I’m not going to lie to them. I think I’m a reasonably respected guy in this room and I’m a very honest person. The first person I called was (general manager) Dale Tallon. There’s no point lying to guys like this. You expect them to have your back. I would expect nothing less from any of them, so I certainly give them that respect by telling them exactly what happened by talking to them personally. I think it went a long way.”
Gudbranson is currently suspended and isn’t being paid until he is fully recovered — the injury didn’t come from a hockey-related training exercise — but he is practicing with the Panthers, “making progress every day” and he’s optimistic he can return in two or three weeks.
He’s relishing being back in the Panthers dressing room. As much as he liked being back at his parents’ house in Orléans to celebrate Christmas, he acknowledges it was tough living back at home for the duration of the lockout. His parents, Wayne and Donna, delivered plenty of tough love, pushing him to keep up with his workouts at Louis Riel High School, his old stomping grounds.
“It was a pretty easy way to do it,” Gudbranson said. “I was two minutes from the gym. Going through a process like that, you’ve got your parents on top of you. As childish as it sounds, it’s good to have your Dad there to tell you to get up and go to the gym. Not that that was ever a problem, but (he would say), ‘what have you eaten today, have you done your exercises today?’ Even stickhandling in the basement. That kind of thing.”
When it was time to come south, he didn’t hesitate to get out the door.
“To be completely honest, I was sick of it and by the end of it. I was driving my mom up the wall.”
FRIENDS AND ENEMIES
By playing Florida twice in the first three games, Guillaume Latendresse has had plenty of time to exchange pleasantries and good-natured insults with Panthers goaltender Jose Theodore.
The two played together in Montreal and Minnesota and Latendresse marvels how the 36-year-old has to been able to survive with his old-school netminding technique. “He’s a great guy. He’s so good. At his size (5-foot-11, 172 pounds), he’s small. He’s quick. I like him so much as a goalie, he’s great. You don’t know where to shoot, because sometimes you make the same shot 10 times, but he’ll make the save differently eight times. He’s like that kind of guy who plays with your mind.”
Before the Senators and Panthers played Monday at Scotiabank Place, Latendresse says, “he told me to stay away from his (trapper) and then I put into his glove on a shot.” Following the game, which included a goal from Kyle Turris on a pretty pass from Latendresse, Theodore chirped him by asking, “you can pass?”
RESPECT AMONG TEAMMATES
Senators defenceman Mark Borowiecki, who has sat out the Senators first three games, is naturally anxious to get his opportunity to play.
“We’re all professionals and we all want to play, and I’m a pretty competitive guy and I want to get in there, so hopefully get my opportunity soon, but you can hurt yourself mentally if you think about it too much,” he said before Thursday’s game. At the same time, Borowiecki has the ultimate respect for the other Binghamton call-ups — 29-year-old Andre Benoit and 22-year-old Patrick Wiercioch — who have been in the lineup for the opening three games.
“Especially Andre Benoit,” said Borowiecki. “It’s kind of a feel good story. The guy really helped me out in my first year in Binghamton and it’s nice to see him get that chance.”
Senators coach Paul MacLean will also contemplate finding a home for winger Kaspars Daugavins, who has been the designated sitter among the forwards so far. During the lockout, Daugavins played with Riga, Latvia in the KHL, playing in some situations he’s not likely to be in with the Senators.
“I came in (to training camp) in good shape,” he said. “I played almost 40 games. I played a lot. I played different roles. It’s fun to play power play and penalty killing and I played 20 minutes a game. We didn’t do too well, our team was losing most games, but it was a good experience to play that kind of hockey and be one of the leaders on the team and play a little more of an offensive role.”
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Erik Gudbranson (left) at a charity hockey game at the Minto Arena in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. Gudbranson hasn’t been cleared for NHL action following a shoulder injury this summer. (Mike Carroccetto/Ottawa Citizen)
Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto, Ottawa Citizen