VANCOUVER - Unlike with Sidney Crosby’s return, national TV stations won't drop everything to broadcast Mason Raymond's imminent comeback.
But the Vancouver Canucks' forward is now close to returning from a fractured vertebra, although neither coach Alain Vigneault nor Raymond have set a date.
The 26-year-old Alberta native, who suffered the injury during Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final against the Boston Bruins, practised on the second line Monday alongside Ryan Kesler and David Booth.
Raymond told the media not to look too far into it.
"I have no time table," Raymond said. "It felt good to get into some line rushes and more of a game-like situation.
"It's another step towards getting back to where I want to be; back on the team helping out."
Vigneault said he hadn't spoken with the winger as to when he can return for his first game action in more than five months.
“I do think that as far as health-wise, condition-wise, he's fine. It's just a matter of him feeling ready to go and a couple of good practices," he said. "We might ease him in here, might be a better option. He has looked real good in practices and he's close.”
Roberto Luongo, who missed the last two games with an upper body injury, said he’s ready to go Wednesday when the Canucks meet the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. The goaltender called his injury a "secret."
"My goal is to be at least in uniform for Wednesday's game, so whether I'm in or not, that's (Vigneault's) decision," he said. "At this time of the year, you want to make sure you're a bit cautious. Took a couple extra days and I'm back to where it needs to be."
Vigneault didn't reveal who will start in goal against Colorado.
Defenceman Keith Ballard also skated with the team Monday after suffering a back injury last week against Chicago.
“I was as surprised as anybody to see him on the ice today," Vigneault said. "Yesterday the medical staff was telling me he didn't have a good day and the stiffness and the spasms were all there, but I guess he felt a lot better today."