Justin Williams was back on the ice today for the first time since he suffered a dislocated shoulder in the March 21 game against Calgary. Initial estimates had Williams being out at least four weeks, which would put him on track for a return around April 18. There’s still no indication that Williams might return any sooner than that, but he will have a strength test on the shoulder tomorrow in order to determine his progress. Williams’ shoulder must be at least at 80-percent strength in order for him to return. For now, he will skate with a tight, vest-like harness on his shoulder and chest. After he skated today, Williams talked about his recovery and the harness…
WILLIAMS: “I’m not really a huge fan of it, but it’s doing its purpose. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. My RoboCop. It’s all right. It restricts me, obviously, a little bit, but it’s just day one. It feels great. I’ve been out a shade under two weeks, so it feels good to get back out there. I feel I didn’t lose any of my stamina or anything, so I felt good. I’ve just got to get used to it in the next few days.”
Question: And you were able to handle the puck and shoot a little…
WILLIAMS: “It was like Smytty’s shot [laughs]. It feels all right. It’s the first day. I can’t have any complaints. I’ve got to keep getting strong, keep getting used to it. The main part is just being comfortable on the ice and not thinking about it, so this is a good step today, in the right direction. I’m going to get used to it out there, and used to what I can or can’t do, so when I get out there I don’t think about it.
Question: Do you have a strength test coming up?
WILLIAMS: “I’ll do it tomorrow, and the results will be what they are. But I feel good, I feel strong and all things are looking good so far.”
Question: Is there any talk of a return date?
WILLIAMS: “I don’t know. I won’t be able to say. I have it in my mind, but it’s up to Kinger and the coaches. When I tell them I’m ready to go, it’s up to them to say, `All right, we might give you another practice here,’ or something. The main point, step one, is just getting myself back to where I’m comfortable.”
Here’s what Terry Murray said about Williams’ presence on the ice, which took place near the end of practice…
MURRAY: “That was a surprise for me. I saw him work out the last few days. He’s looking good. He’s obviously doing a lot of the rehab on that shoulder, and he’s getting some real solid definition there that I haven’t noticed before. So that’s good. That’s a good thing. I think it’s only been a couple weeks, though. We’ll let another week go by, with rehab and skating, and see where he’s at.”
Question: It’s probably going to come down to those strength tests, right?
MURRAY: “It will all come down to strength. Whenever that (shoulder) pops out, there’s always rebuilding the muscles around the shoulder, to tighten it up. Hopefully you never have to do anything else with it, but there’s always a chance that you might have to.”
Question: Do you know if he’s ahead of schedule at all?
MURRAY: “I don’t think he’s ahead of schedule, necessarily. It’s a shoulder, it’s not anything else. It’s the upper body, rather than the legs, so keeping his feet under himself, as far as the skating, that’s a good thing. I see he was shooting a few pucks out there, so obviously the progression is coming. But it’s a couple weeks, only, so there’s more time in front of it.”