February 1, 2012
Barker eager to play again
By DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - It’s been a long, tough road back from an ankle injury for Cam Barker.
But having participated in his first contact practice on Wednesday, the Edmonton Oilers defenceman can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Barker expects to get into the lineup either Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings or early next week when the team is off on a three-game road trip.
“It’ll be good to get back into the routine of practising and playing, rather that rehabbing and icing,” said Barker. “I’m looking forward to getting back, getting in that atmosphere, being around the guys and being in that routine once again.”
Barker, 25, has not played since injuring his ankle back on Nov. 10 in Boston. The Winnipeg native was forced to undergo surgery to repair a ligament problem.
Prior to the injury, Barker had been averaging over 20 minutes of ice time for the Oilers and had a plus-three rating with a goal in 12 games.
At the time, the Oilers had a 9-3-2 record and were at the top of the Western Conference standings.
“Back then, I think I was playing pretty solid defensively and I thought things were turning my way and my game was picking up,” said Barker. “Unfortunately it was a tough injury, but now I’m just looking forward to getting back and contributing and building from where I left off.”
Signed as a free agent this summer, the former third-overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft brought stability to the Oilers blue line.
“He’s got poise, he doesn’t get rattled,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “He’s a big, strong guy over top of the puck and in front of the net. He’s got a great shot and can help out our power play with his shot. He’s got the wherewithal to stay calm and play. He can deliver the puck and I like that.”
So far Barker has missed 30 games this season. It’s the longest stretch he’s ever been out due to injury.
“Last year I had problems with my back, but I’ve definitely never gone through something like this,” he said. “But I’ve worked hard and as far as my fitness goes, I feel great and I’m just looking forward to getting back.”