VANCOUVER - Injured Vancouver Canuck defencemen Alex Edler and Jason Garrison joined the UBC Thunderbirds and a handful of locked out NHLers for a practice Thursday, leading to speculation they were cleared to play and were now locked out as well. Not so.
Both are still rehabbing and under the Canucks' care. Technically, they were skating with the T-Birds and it just so happened that Cory Schneider, Dan Hamhuis, Manny Malhotra and others were also skating under UBC coach Milan Dragicevic's guidance.
Edler has been having back issues with a bulging disc while Garrison's problem is groin related.
“It's getting better obviously,” Edler said in his first public comments since the lockout began Sept. 15. “It's a frustrating injury. You have to be very patient with it but I feel like it's going the right way. Surgery will be absolutely a last resort. As of now, the rehab is working so I'm going to keep doing that.”
With no NHL games scheduled until at least Dec. 1, Edler has no reason to rush anything. He and Garrison are receiving their salaries, as is Ryan Kesler (shoulder and wrist).
“I think it's an injury you have to take slowly anyway,” Edler responded. “Obviously I'd rather see us starting whatever stage I'm at. I'd like to get the season going no matter what. I don't really know when I'll be cleared to play. I'm just going to take it one day at a time.”
He said he enjoyed skating with the large group Thursday, something he has been unable to do since the lockout began.
“Obviously it's a big difference between skating with two or three guys and skating with a team,” added Edler. “I think it's a step.”
GROIN PAINS: It appears Garrison has taken more than a step. He declared himself “definitely close” to full health.
“I'm just kind of getting rid of the last little bits and pieces,” he explained. “I'm skating better every day. I'm working with a guy (Rick Celebrini) who is the best in the business when it comes to this. He's helped me out tremendously with the areas where I've needed attention. I've been told it's going to be sore for a long time, and that's something everyone deals with. It's more strength and getting the strength going.”
GREAT DANE: Canuck right winger Jannik Hansen had a successful debut Thursday in the Finnish Elite League as he collected three points in Tappara's 5-1 victory over Kalpa Kuopio. Hansen skated on a line with 17-year-old sensation Aleksandr Barkov and veteran Ville Nieminen.
“It went well,” Hansen said over the phone from Tampere. “We won so it was nice. I had a goal and two helpers. Why did I come? I didn't want to sit at home anymore. I had enough of waiting for something to happen. I wanted to take it in my own hands and get going.”
Hansen had been skating in Winnipeg for most of the lockout before finally heading home to Denmark 11 days ago. The flight to Finland was a short one for him.
“It's about an hour and 20 minutes so no jet lag,” he noted. “Another angle to me coming here is that we have Olympic qualifications for Denmark in February and if somehow they couldn't figure out the lockout, I wanted to make sure I was playing and in good shape. We're hockey players. We don't want to be sitting at home or fooling around by ourselves. We want to be playing meaningful games.”
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