SUN Hockey Pool

Light in sight for Oiler

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

DALLAS -- Finally, almost 11 weeks after Ethan Moreau broke a small bone above his ankle, the cast is finally off.

And the recently appointed captain, who was originally listed as day-to-day after taking that ill-fated shot off the foot Sept. 26 in Calgary, is actually close to coming back.

"The day the cast came off was a really good feeling. I'm a little bit closer," said Moreau, who had it removed on Friday. "I'll be able to practise soon. I have more of a target in mind of where I want to get back. When you're in a cast it seems so far away. Mentally I'm in a much better place now than I was a week, two weeks ago."

MISSED 105 GAMES

It's been a long, awful stretch for Moreau, who hasn't played a regular-season game since Oct. 21 of last year. He's missed 105 games and counting after sitting out the final 75 games of last season with a shoulder injury.

The tough part is that he should have been back from this about six weeks ago, but doctors misdiagnosed the injury, which cost him a couple of weeks, then put him in a walking brace, rather than a cast, until early November, which cost him a few more.

"It shouldn't have taken that long," he said yesterday at a Dallas practice rink. "It's not a complicated injury. I got hit, fractured my tibia. Unfortunately we didn't find the break, so we wasted a little bit of time.

"That's probably the hardest thing to deal with, just the wasted time."

He was under the impression he'd be in the opening day lineup when the Oilers made him their captain, so to still be on the sidelines 30 games in is killing him.

"It's been horrible," he said. "There's nothing really you can do. I went through an obviously miserable year last year. And we put so much time and energy into preparing for this season."

But he's finally close enough to see light at the end of the tunnel.

"I skated for about half an hour on Saturday, not starts or stops or anything quick, just kind of a three-quarter pace,"he said. "It felt good. As to be expected, it felt sore after, a little bit of swelling. I'm still at the point now of seeing what I can and can't do. Once it feels really good and I'm able to practise 100%, then it's a matter of how much time I need to be effective again."

He's been able to ride the bike a little and lift weights while he's been out, but he's lost a lot of the gains he made last summer.

"It's been a long time, almost 12 weeks," he said. "I've obviously lost a little bit of strength just from my normal workout schedule. But I'm not too worried about it. Things come back very quick. I'm not worried about my fitness level, I'm more worried about being healthy and being able to put all my weight on that foot."

As much of an honour as the captaincy is, it doesn't really mean much unless he can go out there and show why he's wearing the C.

'CAN'T DO MUCH'

"You try to kid yourself and think that you can still do good things (while injured),"he said. "But you can't really do much. A lot of these guys have never played with me. You feel useless, there's not much you can do. Hopefully I can make up for all that when I get back."


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