Pisani's finally back in

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, Fernando Pisani has plenty of experience at this.

While returning from extended stays on injured reserve isn't something any player wants to be well-schooled in, at least Pisani has something to draw from in his latest comeback.

"I was excited; it was a long time coming," said the Oilers winger, who spent more time on the sidelines with his broken ankle - 14 and a half weeks - than anyone expected. "Anytime you're injured you feel like you're an outsider looking in. You want to be out there. You want to be a part of the team. That's probably been the toughest part."

Finally, after the latest MRIrevealed a fully-healed bone, they gave him the green light to return last night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"It was like Christmas all over again."

This is not unfamiliar territory for the 32-year-old, who missed the first 26 games of last year while recovering from ulcerative colitis.

"Last time it was up in the air if I was even going to be playing or not," he said. "This time I knew I was going to be playing, it was just a matter of when. When I came back last year I was basically starting from scratch."

This time there wasn't any severe weight loss or mandatory bed rest. This time he's coming back at full strength.

"I'm going to keep my game simple. Nothing's changed since I left," said Pisani, who took a regular shift on the third line and penalty killing unit. "I'm just going to try and maintain the same game."

He knows there won't be time for settling in. Pisani returns at the most pressure-packed point in the season, and will have to hit the ground skating.

"I think Fernie will be fine," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "He's practised for quite a period of time. I don't think it'll take long, with his experience, to get into the emotion of the games.

"We've stressed with him that we need him to be impactful when he gets back. We don't expect him to ease his way back in."

Longtime linemate Ethan Moreau is glad to see him back.

"It's just great to see him in the room, he's a really popular guy with him teammates," said Moreau.

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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