The luck of Reilly is caught in a web
Often injured defenceman is ready to return to Bulldogs lineup
The luck of Reilly? It’s about to get better, he hopes. Reilly Webb is a big, mobile defender from Stoney Creek and the most-injury-prone player on the Hamilton Bulldogs roster. He’s getting ready to make a comeback. Another one. And he’s convinced it’s going to be different this time.
“My shoulder — I call it my bionic shoulder — it just feels really stable,” says the 17-year-old. “Better than it’s ever felt.”
A second-round pick of the Bulldogs in 2015, Webb should be midway through a successful sophomore campaign and on the radar of NHL scouts. Instead, he has a mere nine games in the Ontario Hockey League under his belt.
Here’s why. At a practice at the start of last season, he took a cross-check from a teammate that separated his shoulder — a dislocation that sidelined him for nearly three months. He returned in late December, only to slice his ankle open — with his own skate — three weeks later.
It was a nasty, festering laceration that required nine stitches and six weeks to heal.
At the time, Webb acknowledged his terrible fortune and said he would just have to work hard over the summer and come back better this year. And he did.
After suiting up for one game with the Bulldogs last March, the six-foot-three, 201-pound blueliner spent his offseason working out with a trainer, playing in a local four-on-four league and enduring almost daily physiotherapy sessions. “I had a busy summer,” he says. “I was feeling good. And I don’t know what happened.”
Actually, he does. In training camp this season, he took another awkward hit and blew out his shoulder. The same one.
At that point, Webb says he knew he was in trouble. “You don’t want it to keep coming out, so I had to say, OK, surgery now.”
In mid-September, he went under the knife — a procedure in which docs tacked down his labrum, which is the piece of rubbery tissue that helps keep the ball of the joint in place. Then, he spent the next 60 days with his arm in a sling.
It hasn’t been fun, he admits after practice Wednesday — his first full-contact workout in months. But he actually thinks he’s better for it.
“I’ve had a lot of time in the gym, a lot of time to work out and just develop my game and make it better even though I haven’t been able to play,” he says.
He’s also spent a lot of time with athletic therapist, J.P. Laciak, who he calls the “key” to his success.
“He’s been working with me every day doing rehab on it and working out with me in the gym, so I’d like to thank him for that,” he said.
According to Bulldogs head coach John Gruden, Webb could return to the lineup in as little as three weeks — as long as there are no setbacks. He says he’s a great kid with a very good personality and the team is “real fortunate, real excited to have him back out there.”
“It’s going to take time,” he adds. “But he brings something to the table. He’s got a really good stick, he skates well for a big guy and he’s been trying to keep himself in shape. He’s just kind of a sandpaper-type player. He does his job and he’s not easy to play against, so I think he can definitely help this team.” Webb thinks so, too. Fingers crossed. “I kind of feel like there’s a dark cloud around me, but hopefully my luck is changing,” he said.
Reilly Webb is getting ready for yet another comeback from injury.