(Originally published at Kukla’s Korner, January 12, 2013)
Two Sharks defensemen went to play in Finland during the lockout. Oddly, they both returned with hand injuries and probably won’t be available to start the shortened season. The only thing that would make it more odd would be if it was the same hand. It isn’t. Jason Demers has a soft removable cast on his right hand, Justin Braun has a cast with a port hole for ultrasound therapy on his left.
Jason Demers played 30 games with Karpat Oulu, and then some more games with Canada’s team in the Spengler Cup tournament. His team won that, which made me think I need to work on how I ask questions. When I commented that Switzerland was a nice way to wind up his time in Europe, he left out that whole winning thing:
To have Christmas and New Years with my family was icing on the cake for that trip.
Maybe you have to be a little more explicit when asking about beating your Captain’s team for a title. Obviously time with your family is important too, but…. WINNING!!!! In all, Demers did have a very successful time abroad:
It was a great experience for me. I really enjoyed it. It was something I needed and I got everything positive you get out of it. And obviously to play in Switzerland was a lot of fun. I had no complaints at all.
What about the bigger ice, the Finnish game?
It’s good, you know, I like the big ice it’s good for my skating, I kind of like that style. Obviously Finland is a lot more North American style than other places in Europe so it was an easy transition. It was just like playing North American style on big ice so obviously it was different but I had a lot of fun doing it.
And Oulu? I looked into going to Oulu, thinking it might be something to do if the season was cancelled. It stood out as the city farthest from Helsinki, farthest north of the cities with teams in the SM-liiga. That didn’t completely put me off, but it did make me look harder for dates when Karpat would be in Helsinki.
Demers had all good things to say about Oulu and his experience in Finland:
Obviously everybody knows it’s cold and it’s dark up there in the winter time but it was a great city and great people, when you open them up a bit they’re a great bunch of people. A great organization, the team was awesome, all the guys were great. It was a really easy transition to go over there. I was welcomed and they treated me great so when I came back, obviously no complaints about anything out there.
As for the hand, and how soon he will be able to play:
I’m going to start skating in the next few days to stay in shape but no, nothing with pucks or anything, just keep myself in shape.
Demers didn’t skate yesterday, but Justin Braun did. Braun was out early and left the ice before things got really busy with the rest of team. The sight of a cast was enough to trick me into thinking Demers must be closer to game ready than Braun, since Demers just has that nice removable one. But I’m no orthopedist.
Kevin Kurz asked Braun a lot of questions about his recovery time, so I’ll refer you Kurz’s blog for what Braun said about that. I do have a picture to clarify this part:
It’s just a hook of the hamate bone, it’s a small bone in your hand. It’s coming up on 5 weeks, 5 to 7 weeks they said, so hopefully it should be coming off about next week, so we’ll see.
Braun shared some specifics about how he adapted to playing the Finnish game:
It was a little different. It was a lot more puck control. I like to get it going up ice, and they wanted me to take it back and control the puck a little more so that was a little different, just getting used to that.. Bigger ice, a little more time, a little harder to defend but it was a good experience.
He only played 6 games with Poleaxe before his hand had to be tended to, and it sounds like his hand was complaining the whole time.
It will be interesting to see both of them back in the game for San Jose, however long it takes. I can’t help but believe that playing on bigger ice in a different system will benefit them in the long run.