Originally created 11/15/00

Pettersen eager to return to ice



Lars Pettersen had his right arm in a sling. It felt more like a straightjacket.

So, as the injured Lynx center stood along the boards to watch his teammates practice Tuesday morning at the IceForum, it wasn't long before he shed the cumbersome harness and began showing off his ever-improving mobility.

"The toughest thing is having to sit out," said Pettersen, who has been forced out of the lineup for the first time in his Lynx career after suffering a dislocated shoulder Nov. 3 in a loss at Florida. "It's been a few years since I've had an injury bad enough to keep me from playing, and I'm going a little crazy right now."

Some think the 23-year-old star is crazy to try to rush back.

But the Okotoks, Alta., native makes no bones about it. Forget about the 6-8 week timetable set by the team's medical staff. He is vowing to return to the lineup in four weeks.

"I haven't looked at the schedule in a while and haven't set a date yet, but they put me on the 30-day (injured reserve), and I'm gunning to be be back before then," said Pettersen, who had a breakout year last season, finishing third in the ECHL in scoring, with 93 points. "My rehab's been going well so far, and the shoulder's starting to feel better," Pettersen added.

"I'm going to see the doctors on Monday and, if they give me the OK, I'm going to start skating on Monday. I need to get back on skates again and get my legs back."

Considering his durability throughout his career and how quickly he came back from a major scare in South Carolina on Oct. 28 -- when he suffered a spinal cord injury and was temporarily paralyzed below the waist -- it's hard to bet against him.

Before the shoulder separation, Pettersen never had missed a game in the two-plus year history of the Lynx, playing in 147 consecutive contests.

Teammates won't bet against his speedy return, but most are remaining cautiously optimistic.

"It's going to take time to get back skating, then will take time to get back into game shape," Lynx forward Louis Dumont said. "You'd love to see him back, but I don't want Lars to come back unless it's healed permanently."

Said Lynx trainer Brian Patafie: "If he does come back in four weeks, I think that's a bonus. But I don't think between the docs at MCG and myself and the organization that we're going to jeopardize Lars' future."

Despite an emotionally and physically draining week following the injury in South Carolina, Pettersen bounced back and did not miss a game by playing in Florida.

Things were going great for Pettersen when, on a shift with the penalty-killing unit, he collided with Everblades forward Andy MacIntyre near center ice. "His shoulder just kind of hit the back of my shoulder and it popped out," Pettersen said. "It hit kind of awkwardly, and MacIntyre's a pretty solid guy."

That's the way it's gone for Pettersen in 2000. Instead of being well on his way to another monster season, he has been forced to endure one bad break after another.

"Even when I wasn't hurt, the bounces weren't going my way," said Pettersen, who had just one goal and one assist in seven games before the injury. "It's funny because, in Florida, that was probably the best I felt all year. I had some scoring chances and our line was playing well together, and then that happens. I don't know if it's bad luck, or what?"

Bad luck, indeed. In an eerie coincidence, the last significant injury Pettersen suffered came on Nov. 3, 1994, when he broke his ankle in his final year of junior hockey playing for Regina in the Western Hockey League. Like this past Nov. 3 in Florida, the ankle injury also occurred on a Friday night.

"It's pretty weird," Pettersen said. "Two injuries on Friday, November 3. And on the night I got hurt in Florida, we had a death in the family, and the family was pretty upset about that. My mum was pretty shaken up about me getting hurt in South Carolina, then again in Florida. Then, my sister's husband's brother died that same day. It was a rough week."

Coach Scott MacPherson says there's no reason to doubt Pettersen's goal to return in four weeks.

"All I know is you have a kid that wants to play, and it's mind over matter," MacPherson said. "I've seen guys come back from broken legs in four weeks. Obviously, it depends on his threshold of pain level, but it sure sounds like he's willing to come back and give it his best shot. And that's great news. He's one of the best players in this league and any time you take a leader out of a team -- a leader who adds a lot of production -- it hurts."

NOTES:

The Boston Bruins claimed goalie Peter Skudra off waivers on Tuesday, which could mean Judd Lambert's days with Providence of the American Hockey League are numbered.

With No. 1 goalie Byron Dafoe healthy again and Skudra in Boston, the Bruins are expected to assign rookie Andrew Raycroft to Providence, and veteran Kay Whitmore likely would be Raycroft's backup. The Bruins are expected to make a decision on Providence's goaltending situation in the next few days.

The Lynx would welcome Lambert back if he were left go, but don't be surprised if the 26-year-old tries to sign with another team in the AHL or in the International league before considering a return to Augusta.