It may not mean a great deal in terms of his overall recovery, but for Zac Dalpe, getting back on the ice was a good thing.
The high-scoring forward, injured in a game at Norfolk less than two weeks ago, was a late addition to the Checkers’ morning skate prior to that night’s game against Norfolk. He wore a yellow, non-contact jersey and didn’t participate fully by any means, but progress is progress.
“You have to be careful and think long-term, but when I had an opportunity to get back on the ice, I couldn’t pass that up,” he said.
Dalpe, who ranks second on the Checkers in 38 points (19g, 19a) despite missing 13 games due to injury and recalls to Carolina, said that he still does not have an exact timetable for his return. Similarly, coach Jeff Daniels said that he wasn’t able to put a finger on exactly where Dalpe is in his recovery from a lower-body concern.
That said, the initial thought was that he wasn’t going to be skating this soon, a development Dalpe said was encouraging.
“We’re not going to push it, but everyone heals differently and I’m just going to take it day-by-day based on how I feel when I wake up in the morning,” he said. “We’re still looking at the long haul.”
The same could be said of the team’s other eight injuries, which also carry inexact points of return. Other than Dalpe, Jerome Samson was the only player to skate Wednesday, though he is not considered to be close to suiting up for the first time since early January.
Though all injured players are eager to get back, Dalpe, who has rarely been unfit to play during his three seasons with Charlotte, has entered a class by himself. Even before he returned to the ice on Wednesday, he could be spotted at every practice the team has held since his March 1 injury.
“I’ve always been a rink rat,” he said. “This is an exciting time of year and it’s good to still be around, even though it sucks watching practice.
“I’m excited. When you’re injured you’re still part of the team even though you’re not there in the nucleus, but it felt great getting dressed with the guys and getting back out on the ice.”