SUNRISE | We may have the best intentions in the world, but we never know with certainty how effectively we will return to the game after a serious injury. Especially when it comes to an Achilles tendon injury, like the one Anthony Duclair suffered.
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Victim of bad luck during a summer training session, Duclair had to skip the first 61 games of the Panthers season. It was only recently that he returned to the game after having to take his troubles patiently.
“For the two weeks following the surgery, I had to be content to stay on the sofa and do nothing. It took three and a half months before I could start walking again,” said the 27-year-old striker.
Obviously, there is never a good time for an injury. But this one couldn’t have come at a worse time. In his second season with the Panthers, Duclair seemed to be on his way. He had reached personal highs with 31 goals and 58 points.
“From season to season, you always try to improve. In recent years, I think I’ve done a good job on that side, he said. An injury like that takes a step back. »
Therefore, rehabilitation has not only been a physical chore. At times, the mind also took for its cold.
“You try to stay positive and come to the arena smiling. But it’s getting long. The motivation is less there,” mentioned the Montrealer.
Praises from Mauritius
Accompanied by the physical trainer who supervises him in Montreal, that of the Panthers and a trainer specializing in sports psychology, Duclair managed to get through this ordeal.
The work done by Duclair has not gone unnoticed by Paul Maurice, who has taken his place behind the Panthers bench since the start of the season.
“We have to give him a lot of credit. It was quite a challenge. He worked very hard, underlined Maurice. And there, we are not talking about a shoulder injury. For a skater, it’s a terrible injury. »
“In addition, he certainly experienced anxiety seeing that other players who suffered the same injury as him had experienced other problems afterwards,” added Maurice, referring, without naming him, to Max Pacioretty.
Duclair did such a colossal job, including attending all the video sessions, that, by his own account, he came back a vastly improved version of himself.
“I learned a lot watching the matches. I focused on the top two lines of each team to see how explosive those players were and how successful they were,” Duclair explained. I took notes to bring that into my game and I feel like I’m smarter on the ice. »
An intelligence and a different way of seeing the game that prompted Maurice to try an experiment: that of pairing him with Aleksander Barkov.
“He always believed that to stay in this league he had to score goals. And it’s true, because he’s a shooter. We felt that the marriage could be perfect between Barkov and him because he will not try to give him back the puck every time Sasha passes it to him, ”said Maurice, before continuing.
“Now the question is whether we can make Anthony’s game strong enough to be able to oppose him to the best opposing squads. So far, we are quite satisfied. »
If Duclair continues in this vein, crossing the desert will have been beneficial to him. As he said himself: “Everything happens for a reason. »