Visnovsky still facing long rehab

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

Tuesday, Feb. 3, could be considered a turning point in the Edmonton Oilers fortunes this past NHL season.

That was the night defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky went down for the year with a shoulder injury, leaving a gap on the blue line the Oilers were never able to fill.

"Personally, for me, it was a tough season," Visnovsky said. "I only got to play 50 games, then suffered the first major injury of my hockey career.

"It was tough just watching the last 30 games on TV. I felt so bad and I was so mad and I tried to help any way I could."

Visnovsky, 32, joined the Oilers from the Los Angeles Kings in a trade for Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll last summer.

The native of Topolcany, Slovakia, was expected to add another element of experience and offence to the Oilers blue line, and he came through with flying colours by registering 31 points in his 50 games.

The shoulder injury, sustained in a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, brought the curtain down on what surely would have been a career season for him -- and he's still a couple of months away from being completely healthy.

"For the team, it's tough to miss the playoffs," Visnovsky said. "I think the guys played some good games but still lost. I think next season will be better, the young players will be older and more experienced."

Visnovsky was able to settle into life in Edmonton after initially having reservations about coming north. He's expected to be in the Oilers plans for years to come.

"I really enjoy playing here," he said. "These are the best teammates I've ever had in my career. The people are also very friendly here.

"When I first came here I was a little bit mad because I had played eight seasons in California.

"But this city is very nice. In the winter it's very tough to live here because it's so cold, but right now, it's very nice. I really like it."


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