Lupul battlin' back

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:20 PM ET

ANAHEIM — It’s been a long, painful year for Joffrey Lupul.

The Anaheim Ducks forward has been out of the lineup for nearly an entire calendar year trying to recover from a pair of back surgeries and a resulting bone infection.

The Fort Saskatchewan native and former Edmonton Oilers forward is close to making a return, back practicing with the team on a fulltime basis.

He wasn’t in the lineup as the Ducks hosted the Oilers on Sunday.

“It’s been frustrating,” said Lupul, prior to the game. “It’s been one thing after another. When you have surgery, you want to concentrate on getting back as soon as possible.

“But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a while where I was thinking that it might be it for my career.”

Lupul, 27, had been battling with back issues for some time and eventually got to a point where he required surgery to repair a herniated disk.

He had his first surgery last December.

“It wasn’t pain really, but I started to get a lot of numbness in my legs,” Lupul said. “As soon as that began to happened, I couldn’t play.

“I would try to take a week or two off and then I would be able to come back and play for a bit. But after a while, I had to have the surgery.”

Doctors actually had to go in twice to try and repair the problem. After the second time in January, Lupul developed a bone infection, which required him to undergo an aggressive antibiotic treatment.

He lost 30 pounds in the process.

“I was down to about 170 pounds,” said Lupul. “I don’t think I had been at 170 pounds since my midget days.

“It was hard, when I had the infection. I was pretty sore.”

Eventually Lupul was able to fight off the infection, although he still needs to take a blood test every three weeks to make sure it does not return.

Slowly he was able to begin rehabilitating his back and regained the weight.

“I feel really good, I feel really strong now,” Lupul said. “I might be as strong as I’ve ever been, I’ve spent so much time, the past three or four months just working out, because they weren’t letting me skate.

“I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel when I got back on the ice, but I feel really good, I feel 100%.”

The Ducks have yet to decide on a timeline for Lupul’s return, but it’s down to weeks now, instead of months.

He could be in the lineup by the time the Ducks make a visit to Edmonton in early December.

Lupul’s last game was on Dec. 8 last year. At the time, he had 10 goals and 4 assists in 23 games for the Ducks.

“We don’t really have a plan yet,” Lupul said. “We have almost a week off after (Sunday’s) game, so it’ll be a good time for me to get a couple of good practices in.”

The team is contemplating the option of sending Lupul to their minor-league affiliate in Syracuse for a conditioning stint.

“That would be fine with me, I just want to play anywhere right now,” he said. “But I do want to make sure when I play here that I’m not in a position where I’m only at 80%. As soon as I’m in the game I want to be at 100%.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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