Marc Pouliot hopes to be back very soon. Back to what, he's not quite sure.
He knows the Edmonton Oilers are hanging by their fingertips from the edge of a cliff, and could fall long before he even gets a chance to try and help them up, but at this point any situation is better than the one he's in right now.
"Four months and I've played zero games," said the former first round draft pick, who injured his groin in training camp and ultimately needed sports hernia surgery. "I'm looking forward to it."
Even if it's a conditioning stint in the American League.
"I'll do whatever it takes. If I need to go down and play a few games I'll do it."
As much as he wants to be back as fast as possible, while there are still some meaningful games to be played, there's no way he can rush the final few steps. Not after suffering a couple of setbacks already.
"I'm going to start playing when I'm really ready to play," he said. "I'm not going to push, there's no need for it. We tried that in the past. I went back too fast. This time I took my time and so far so good.
"When I start playing I want to keep playing till the end of the season, I don't want to go back to the injuries happening."
Missing the first 45 games or so, and then coming back to a team that's scraping the bottom of the barrel isn't how he envisioned things. He, like everyone else on the team, was looking forward to a fresh start with the new regime, a chance to take the next step in a career that stalled on the third line.
"It's obviously disappointing," he said. "I had goals, and I felt really good in the pre-season. I wanted to do well, but these things happen. I'm just focusing now on finishing the season strong. I'm just going to play."
And hope the games still matter.
"Everybody wants to win," he said. "We still believe we can do it. We have to think that way."
Jacques not forgotten
Pat Quinn has left J-F Jacques in the press box the last two games, but said again yesterday that he doesn't want to leave him there. Jacques brings a dimension not many other forwards on the team do.
"He's one of the guys who we know what we get from him," said Quinn. "We're getting good effort and he does what he does well. He finishes his checks, he goes to the net. He's not getting any production, but our scorers aren't getting any production, either."
"You think of it in 10-game segments where we have to make up four points on the eighth place team every 10 games. When you think about it that way it's not that daunting."
-- Shawn Horcoff