SUN Hockey Pool

Vandermeer playing it safe

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

This time, Jim Vandermeer is making sure he's ready for a comeback.

Joining his teammates on the ice again this week in his second attempt at returning from a fractured ankle, the Calgary Flames defenceman is already feeling better.

Although he suited up for four games as a forward in January when Todd Bertuzzi was out with a bad hip, Vandermeer isn't sure he could have played on the blueline.

Pivoting was difficult, and the strength just didn't seem right. So back on the injured reserve he went.

"It's feeling good. It's feeling better than it was when I first came back. It's not getting as sore," said Vandermeer, who isn't quite ready for this week's remaining games against the Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oilers.

"When I was playing before, it wasn't hurting real bad. It's just afterwards it got a bit sore. We checked it out again, and (doctors) said maybe you should stay off it for a bit longer.

"This time, we're going to make sure it's really healed, and there's going to be no more problems."

Working on his skating and passing with fellow injured blueliner Rhett Warrener in Tuesday's morning skate, Vandermeer couldn't explain exactly what the problem was that forced him to miss another 11 contests after his four-game comeback.

Hockey players always seem to return a little too early from ankle problems.

"They seem like they're good, and then you start putting a lot of stress on them and you tweak them again or they're not quite ready when you think they are," said Vandermeer, who's still feeling some fatigue around the joint.

"It's tough to really describe what it is when you've been off it so long. It's almost like when you first come back after summer break, the first time you skate, the first couple times, you kind of feel a little awkward.

"It'll come back quick."

The Caroline, Alta., product, who turns 29 Saturday, sure hopes so.

"It's been a long time, and hopefully, it's not too much longer."


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