OTTAWA — In nearly 1,000 games during his 15-year NHL career, defenceman Steve Staios has suffered his fair share of discomfort.
Remnants of past stitch jobs subtly mark his face. Bones have been broken, deep bruises formed.
But on the verge of returning from a nearly six-week absence after suffering injuries to his shoulder and ribs Dec. 5, the 37-year-old veteran admits this was the most painful of his career.
“Honestly, I can’t remember anything being as sore as this one,” Staios said after being cleared for light contact and skating with his teammates at Scotiabank Place Thursday afternoon.
“Usually after Day 3 or 4, you think, ‘OK, now it’s going to turn around.’ It wasn’t until Week 3 of it where I was really actually able to sleep properly.”
A hit in the game against Chicago left him with two fractured ribs up high and a separation of the acromioclavicular (AC) joint.
If the small range of motion with the shoulder was difficult to deal with, the rib injury made it especially difficult to perform everyday activities.
Just sucking in cold air while watching his kids play hockey was uncomfortable.
“Everything was really painful,” Staios said, adding laughing, sneezing and coughing were excruciating.
“The first couple of weeks were awful. It was one of the most painful injuries I’ve been through, for sure.”
He joined the Flames for their current four-game road trip, and that’s a start. While he isn’t expected to play this weekend, he’s pushing to get back earlier than anticipated.