Like Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik also skated on Wednesday as the veteran winger took the next step in his attempt to return from a broken bone in his foot. While Kopitar hadn’t yet skated prior to taking the ice this morning at Toyota Sports Center, Gaborik and Andy Andreoff had skated both on their own and with each other while the team was on the road over the past nine days.
According to Gaborik, “this is kind of the first skate where I pushed it, and it feels pretty good.”
The injury, suffered when he blocked a shot at the World Cup on September 25, took place in an area of the foot that does not heal as easily as others. It was the first time Gaborik had ever broken his foot.
“…One bone was kind of in an area where it was hard to heal and the other two were healing pretty quickly, so I was in a boot,” he said. “But in a skate it feels pretty good, and it’s just a matter of getting up to speed and getting some endurance, and it’s just a matter of skating and getting into shape.”
Having moved on from riding a bike “for quite some time now,” that conditioning and endurance will serve as the next box to check. After he graduates to skating with the full team, he’ll look to test his progress in battle and compete drills.
“[I’ll] make sure that the strength is there so that it holds up in the battles, and obviously skating on my own is totally different than skating out there with the team when there’s no room, so it’s just a typical drill coming back from injury, and I think it’s coming along very good and it shouldn’t be a long time ’til I get out there,” he said.
That’s reassuring to a team that is also dealing with the losses of Jeff Zatkoff, Brayden McNabb and Jonathan Quick in addition to Gaborik, Kopitar and Andreoff and lists an official count of 62 man-games lost to injury, a tally that does not include Teddy Purcell’s undisclosed ailment from earlier in the year.. This Sunday’s game in Anaheim marks eight weeks since the date of his injury.
“I think I’m right on track,” Gaborik said. “It’s just like I said, a matter of getting the strength back on the ice and skating. I haven’t skated for several weeks or something like that so it’s just a matter of getting those practices in so I can jump in to games ready to go.”
There’s still no precise timetable on a potential return, though it’s clear progress is being made. Gaborik, who had appeared in 99 consecutive games with Los Angeles before suffering a knee injury at Madison Square Garden last February 12 that kept him sidelined until the second game of Los Angeles’ first round playoff series with San Jose, will look to rebound from a slow start to the 2015-16 season that ultimately concluded with the Slovakian finishing with 12 goals and 22 points in 54 games.