The Edmonton Oilers got a nice little morale boost yesterday when winger Fernando Pisani slipped on a pair of skates and hit the ice after practice.
It's the first time he's skated since complications from colitis left him gaunt and bed ridden last summer, unable to even think about playing NHL hockey.
He isn't coming back anytime soon, but they're talking about his return in weeks and months now, instead of wondering if he'll make it back at all.
"I've been feeling pretty good lately so I wanted to get back on the ice and get the hands and feet going," said the 30-year-old, who was entirely gassed after his brief twirl.
"Everything is drained. My lungs, my legs, my whole body. But you know what, it's a good feeling just getting those muscles going again. You can work out all you want but there's nothing like going out on the ice and skating."
He was a sight for sore eyes, which describes the banged up Oilers pretty accurately. Head coach Craig MacTavish says if Pisani continues to improve the way he has been, he could be game-ready by mid-December.
"It's going to be four to six weeks to get himself built up and back in shape and ready to play ... barring any relapse of symptoms," said the coach, who wouldn't have dreamed about that quick a recovery given how sick Pisani was in September. "It's really encouraging. From where he was a month ago to where he is now, he's light years ahead.
"Now you can start putting the personal things aside and start focusing on the professional things, and that's getting him back in a position where he can play."
Pisani has no timetable. His body will let him know when he's ready.
"Right now my philosophy is to take it slow and easy and build up to where I want to get to."
It's good news for a team that could use some.
"As a team you can be suffocated by your own problems," said MacTavish. "But when you see a guy like Fernie go through the struggles he's gone through, and the enthusiasm he brings to the rink, it has an effect on putting things in perspective for everybody. Let's put our skates and equipment on and have some fun, play the game and work hard. Fernie definitely symbolizes that for our team."