Florida Panthers v Colorado Avalanche

Six months after ACL surgery, Florida’s Versteeg cleared to play


Kris Versteeg is ready to go.

That’s the news out of Florida on Wednesday, and it’s no small news — Versteeg has been medically cleared to return to game action for the first time since tearing his ACL in March.

Recovering from major knee surgery in six months? Pretty impressive. How did he manage to pull it off?

“I’ve talked to a lot of guys who have had it done like [Tomas] Kopecky and [Scottie] Upshall, you just trust their opinion, more so you got to trust  your doctor, trust your surgeon what he did to you is going to make you better first, and understand that and go through your physical therapy,’’ Versteeg told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “The staff here in Florida did a tremendous job with me the first two months, then I went home [to Lethrbridge] and worked with a guy named Tim back home and my own trainer and they got me to where I am today.”

Versteeg, 27, tore up his knee during a game against Tampa Bay on Mar. 12 and underwent surgery shortly thereafter. While some thought he wouldn’t be ready for the start of the season, Versteeg — third on the Panthers in scoring (54 points) during the 2011-12 campaign — trained extensively over the summer to get healthy.

Now he figures to be a big part of a young Florida team looking to make amends for last year’s disastrous 30th-place finish.

“It’s definitely a lot of commitment,” Versteeg said. “I’m excited to what I can do this year.’’

Versteeg will make his preseason debut on Thursday in Tampa Bay.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.