H1N1 keeps d-man Blue

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:21 PM ET

COLUMBUS -- Taking a beating in the press from his coach this week wasn't a surprise to Mike Commodore.

He's been dealing with blow after blow all season.

"Groin. Swine flu. Groin. Charley horse," said the Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman, listing in order the ailments that have troubled him since August.

"It's been a trying year for me so far."

Just a week into training camp, Commodore was one of the first NHLers to come down with H1N1.

"I was early -- first wave of men down," said the former Flames defenceman. "I didn't think it was that big a deal, but it took more out of me, I think, than I thought. It beat me up. I was hurting.

"I came back and was starting to feel good, then the groin bit me again."

Missing the Blue Jackets' first game against the Flames in Calgary, Commodore was nearing his return from the second groin issue.

He played just a handful of games before the charley horse knocked him out of a couple more.

But in the last half-dozen contests, he's struggled with one assist and a minus-5 rating that prompted Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock to suggest when talking to reporters this week "he's got to play better."

"I'm starting to feel better. I'm starting to feel like I have a little bit of legs. But, to be brutally honest with you, it's been a chore," Commodore said. "I've never had to do it before, but it's tough trying to catch up when guys are at full speed."

In 13 games so far this NHL season, Commodore has five assists, a minus-5 rating and 10 penalty minutes.

"The real frustrating part for me -- I try not to think about it because it pisses me off too much -- I put more work in this summer than I ever have before. By a long shot.

"I worked my ass off to try and get ready for this year, because I knew this year was going to be a big year, and I wanted to have a good season.

"If I would have mailed it in in the summer and sat around and golfed and drank in the summer and not worked out at all, then I could understand."

Always one to look on the bright side, Commodore is trying to keep a sense of humour about things.

"Last year, I kind of ran out of gas with 15 games left," Commodore said with a grin. "So maybe this year, I'll be ready to go with 15 games left.

"Every year can't be silky smooth."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA

THREE STARS

AS CHOSEN BY SUN MEDIA

OLLI JOKINEN, CGY

Had one of his best efforts and was rewarded with a goal and an assist.

RICK NASH, CLB

Quiet early but had huge powerplay goal to get things going in second period.

JAMIE LUNDMARK, CGY

Scored the shootout winner with a top-shelf shot to complete the comeback.


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