Defenseman Francois Beauchemin was in full gear Friday for his first practice with teammates since tearing his left ACL in November. Most notable were his stops and starts and shots from close range, which had him looking like the Beauchemin of old.
Though he didn’t say it directly (just doing the math from my couch here), Beauchemin seems to be at 95 percent health:
“I felt pretty good the last six weeks. I’ve been improving and feeling better on the ice every week. I probably started at 65 percent, and I’ve been up five percent every week since,” he said. “So I think I’m going to keep feeling the same way the next couple weeks.”
Beauchemin said he introduced stops and starts into his regimen last week, and so far there have been no setbacks.
“For the knee surgery (making quick stops and starts) was the last step before going out with the guys. Today was a big adjustment, opening up to go forward and backwards. That was a big step for me, too, so and then the biggest one will be getting the quickness back.”
If their position in the Western Conference standings holds, the Ducks will miss the playoffs and Beauchemin won’t play again until the 2009 season gets underway. Given his injury, that might be ideal for the defensemen’s left tendon, which was expected to take at least six months to heal.
But if the Ducks make the playoffs, and if they’re still alive in two months, Beauchemin can’t rule out rejoining the team.
“It just depends if I get cleared by the doctors, how I feel and react to the practices in the next weeks,” he said. “We’ve got to wait another I-don’t-know-how-long before getting into contact, then we’ll see what happens. It’s been four months today, the 20th. It’s usually a six-month recovery.”
Even if the Ducks can’t wait to have him back, Beauchemin is slightly ahead of schedule, and that small amount of good news will have to suffice.
“I’ve been skating for five weeks maybe by myself with (trainer) Sean (Skahan) and Lars (Brad Larsen),” he said. “I talked to the doc in our last meeting this Wednesday, and he said that we want to go a little higher tempo and see how my knee reacted to it. I’m just going to do shooting drills – no contact yet – and see how my knee would deal with that. That’s basically what I’ve been doing the last five weeks by myself, shooting drills and stuff. The only difference is it’s a lot higher tempo, trying to keep up with the guys.”