‘For me, it felt like for­ever’

Hy­man re­turns to lineup just as Marner starts his own re­hab stint

The Peterborough Examiner - - SPORTS - KEVIN MCGRAN

There’s re­ally no good news when a player of Mitch Marner’s abil­ity gets side­lined. The Maple Leafs will sim­ply have to make do with­out their top right winger.

They have al­ready started adapt­ing to life with­out him: Kasperi Ka­pa­nen has slot­ted in on John Tavares’s wing, Trevor Moore has the abil­ity to play on any line, Nic Pe­tan is back from the Mar­lies, and Ja­son Spezza is ready and will­ing to play any role.

And, of course, Zach Hy­man has re­turned to the lineup.

“It feels good to be back,” Hy­man said Wed­nes­day, prior to the Leafs’ game against the New York Is­lan­ders. “Just a gen­eral ex­cite­ment. Been watch­ing a lot of hockey ob­vi­ously. Been around the guys a bunch, prac­tis­ing a ton. I feel ready.”

Hy­man had been side­lined since suf­fer­ing a torn knee lig­a­ment in the play­offs.

“It’s a six-month in­jury,” he said. “It wasn’t crazy long, but for me, it felt like for­ever.”

Hy­man had surgery on a torn an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment, a pro­ce­dure that has about a 95-per-cent suc­cess rate for high-per­for­mance ath­letes mak­ing full re­cov­er­ies. That’s ac­cord­ing to a va­ri­ety of stud­ies, said Dr. Doug Richards, the med­i­cal direc­tor of the David L. Mac­In­tosh Sport Medicine Clinic at the Univer­sity of Toronto and the chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer of the Cana­dian Sport In­sti­tute, On­tario.

Richards has not par­tic­i­pated in the care of Hy­man or Marner, but as an ex­pert in the field of sports in­juries, he says Marner’s chances of re­cov­er­ing to 100 per cent of his abil­i­ties are higher than Hy­man’s.

“My ex­pe­ri­ence is that it’s sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter odds (to re­turn from a high-an­kle sprain) than an ACL if you take care of it prop­erly,” Richards said. “I don’t have enough fin­gers and toes to count the ath­letes I’ve taken care of who have re­sumed their ca­reer at 100 per cent of their pre­vi­ous ef­fec­tive­ness.

“It’s only a ca­reer-threat­en­ing in­jury if you don’t take care of it.”

Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres and Erik Karls­son of the San Jose Sharks are two big names that have re­turned from high-an­kle sprains the past few sea­sons. Alex Steen of the St. Louis Blues is deal­ing with one now.

Most an­kle sprains are caused by the rolling of the foot. Not a high an­kle sprain. That’s an in­jury to the lig­a­ments that hold the leg bones — the tibia and the fibula — to­gether. Those lig­a­ments are not at­tached to the foot.

Marner suf­fered his in­jury on Satur­day, trip­ping in the sec­ond pe­riod. His right foot is in a pro­tec­tive boot, prob­a­bly un­til at least Fri­day, Marner said this week.

“Good treat­ment of a high-an­kle sprain is to im­mo­bi­lize it for a pe­riod of time to al­low ad­e­quate heal­ing be­fore you start let­ting the ath­lete load it again,” Richards said. “The longer they are im­mo­bi­lized, the steeper the hill is to climb out of it. I’m sure a gifted ath­lete will do the re­hab.”

When the boot comes off, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion will be­gin. Marner will be re-eval­u­ated in about four weeks.

“Stan­dard re­hab in­volves restora­tion of range of mo­tion, restora­tion of strength, restora­tion of speed and func­tional move­ment pat­terns,” said Richards, who has worked for the Rap­tors and Olympic teams. “So all the func­tional move­ment pat­terns he needs to do to skate for­ward, back­ward, cross over, land right, stop sud­denly, start sud­denly, what­ever you do … they’ll take him through it all.

“The re­hab process for a top ath­lete is typ­i­cally faster than the rest of the rest of the pop­u­la­tion … If you or I had a high­ankle sprain and then went to the physio three times a week, that’s not the same as a pro ath­lete who’s go­ing to be in the trainer’s room three times a day, work­ing on it full speed ahead.”

CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Leafs cap­tain John Tavares lost line­mate Mitch Marner, left, to in­jury, but got winger Zach Hy­man, right, back for Wed­nes­day’s game.

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