Muzzin bouncing back

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

Jake Muzzin doesn't have to be asked twice about a big date in his life.

"April 28," Muzzin, 17, said. "That was the turning point."

The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defenceman had back surgery that day in London, Ont., to repair two herniated disks.

The injury, which happened gradually, caused him to miss the entirety of what would have been his rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League after he was drafted 11th overall by the Hounds in 2005.

The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Muzzin has played in two games this season and scored his first OHL goal on the weekend in a game in Ottawa. It may have been a long time coming, but for Muzzin, the fact it came at all was good enough.

"There were times right after surgery when it was so painful, health was a lot more important to me than hockey," said Muzzin, who played for the Brantford 99ers minor midgets prior to being drafted. "I had to get through the thoughts of maybe never playing again. But the doctor said everything would be fine, and I don't have pain now."

Muzzin's complete insertion into the Hounds lineup will take time. Missing a year of hockey at an age when he could have developed greatly hurts.

"The game is a lot more about speed and quickness now and he is catching up," Greyhounds coach Craig Hartsburg said. "He should have been a regular by now and it's like we have turned the clock back on him. I still think he has a good chance to be a pro. We just have to be patient."

Maple Leafs 2006 first-rounder Jiri Tlusty, meanwhile, was pointless in two games after scoring in his Hounds debut.

"He has been just okay," Hartsburg said.

"He is learning he has to work for everything in this league."

BRIEFLY

The Brampton Battalion has lost six in a row and a big problem has been penalty killing. Brampton is last in the OHL with a success rate of 71.3% ... Former Ottawa 67's defenceman Brendan Bell, on 67's coach Brian Kilrea reaching 1,100 wins: "It's amazing, especially to do it with one team in one city. It was special playing for Killer and you appreciate it more when you are gone."


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