WINNIPEG - Eric Fehr has cleared another hurdle on the road to recovery and there’s one more big one left to pass before he makes his Winnipeg Jets debut.
The Winkler product was cleared for contact by Jets team doctors on Wednesday and took part in Thursday’s morning skate without the red jersey that alerts teammates to take caution.
However, the timetable for right-winger’s return to the lineup remains up in the air.
“Obviously, it’s encouraging and it’s the news I wanted to hear. I wish I could play today but that’s not the case,” said Fehr, who was acquired from the Washington Capitals this summer and has been rehabbing since having off-season shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. “I don’t think there’s any rush right now. I think guys are a little shy to bump into me. Right now, it’s status quo, practising with the guys and taking it day-by-day and hoping for the best.”
Fehr was removed from the injured reserve list on Thursday and if all goes well over the next few days, he should be able to get into game action before the end of the month.
The next step for Fehr is to take part in contact drills during practice, something that isn’t always the easiest thing to encourage.
“Right now, it’s all positive,” said Fehr. “Skating, shooting and stickhandling feels good, but when you bring in body (contact), it changes things. I’ll have to see how I react to it and see how the shoulder feels after I take a couple of hits. It’s partially mental and partially physical. Once you get all of those things together, it’s time to play.
“At this point, you do as much work on conditioning as you can but you’re not going to feel ready until you’re put in that spot.”
At least Fehr hasn’t lost his sense of humour while being stuck on the sidelines.
“The guys were a little shy, obviously in a pre-game skate nobody is running into each other. I’m sure there will be a time when the coach has to say get in the corner and go hit Fehr. That will come,” said Fehr. “They’re scared about something. Maybe they think I’m going to knock them over.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel is encouraged by the progress Fehr is making, but understands there’s no use rushing him back until he’s 100% healthy.
“You’ve got to ease into it,” said Noel. “Even when he gets playing again, let’s be smart about how we’re managing this thing. Eric is going to be a good player for us. We’d like to have him for more than a couple of weeks and then re-injure it.”
MAXWELL CLAIMED: The Jets roster shrunk by one player on Thursday morning as forward Ben Maxwell was claimed off waivers by the Anaheim Ducks.
Maxwell had no points in four games with the Jets this season and has a goal and two points in 36 NHL games with the Jets, Atlanta Thrashers and Montreal Canadiens.
SKILLS ON DISPLAY: The Jets will host their first annual skills competition on Tuesday night at MTS Centre.
Among the events being held are the fastest skater competition, hardest shot competition, a puck control relay and a breakaway competition.
Zach Bogosian, Mark Stuart, Evander Kane, Tim Stapleton, Bryan Little, Jim Slater, Kyle Wellwood, Mark Flood, Ron Hainsey, Chris Thorburn and Ondrej Pavelec will represent Team White, while Dustin Byfuglien, Johnny Oduya, Kenndal McArdle, Andrew Ladd, Alex Burmistrov, Tanner Glass, Blake Wheeler, Nik Antropov, Brett Festerling, Chris Mason, Peter Mannino and Fehr will suit up for Team Blue.
Tickets are $12.50 and $17.50, plus service charges, and are available at www.ticketmster.ca.