BALLSTON, Va. - Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green fully participated in practice Tuesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, marking the first time he has done so since straining his right groin muscle November 11.
"[I] finally was able to skate with the team and making a lot of progress here, so still day-to-day and nothing's changed as far as the plan from before, but the good thing is I'm back on the ice and feeling good," Green said after practice.
Green suffered the injury during the first period of the Caps' game against the New Jersey Devils over a month ago when he collided with Ryan Carter along the boards. Coincidentally, Green was returning from a three-week break while recovering from a twisted right ankle.
Throughout the last month, Green has been skating before and during the beginning of practice, but never stayed on the ice with his teammates for an entire practice. Tuesday, he stayed on the ice for the entire 45-minute practice, rotating in during drills and taking part in the team's power play work. He visited a specialist about two weeks ago and reportedly received electrical stimulation treatment in an effort to further his recovery after it had plateaued.
"I could not wait to get back out there and skate with the guys," Green said. "It's tough watching hockey and not being a part of it, so for me to get back out there and be a part of this and smile a little bit, it feels good. You don't realize how much you miss it until you're gone for a while."
"Time heals all," he continued. "The degree of injury that I had, this is the time frame that you plan to come back. As much as tried to get myself back quicker, it's just a matter of a time and you gotta let it heal. I've been training hard off the ice and doing everything I can to stay in shape, but until you get back on the ice and you get skating, it's hard to train for hockey. But I feel as good as I possibly could going back on the ice today. I just need a few skates to get my lungs and my legs back and I'll be back in no time. We'll see."
Despite the positive news, both Green and head coach Dale Hunter did not have a timetable on Green's return to action. He has missed all but eight games this season.
Perhaps the most concerning comment Green made Tuesday is that he realizes that his injury will be something that could bother him for the rest of his career. Yet, he feels that he just needs to get back into playing shape before returning.
"I think I'm gonna have to be cognizant of this through the rest of my career, probably," Green said. "It's just maintenance right now, making sure that I'm on top of my stuff and getting better. I don't think I'll be 100 percent for a long time, but just gotta get to that stage where I can play."