Avalanche forward Peter Mueller ready to play after year-long concussion battle

We’ve had so much talk of concussions here of late thanks to the issues Sidney Crosby is dealing with in trying to come back from his own that the other players who are struggling with their own problems get lost in the mix. We heard from Nathan Horton earlier about how he’s fully recovered from his and he’ll be ready to go in training camp. David Perron is yet to get back on the ice after suffering a concussion last November and who knows when or if we’ll hear from Marc Savard again.

Colorado’s Peter Mueller missed all of last season after picking up up a concussion in a preseason game against Los Angeles thanks to an errant stick to the head. That concussion coupled with the one he received late in the 2009-2010 season helped conspire to keep Mueller out of action. As Adrian Dater of The Denver Post writes today, Mueller has put all of that behind him and he’s ready to start anew this year.

“I’m excited to be a hockey player again,” Mueller said Wednesday in his first public comments since last September. “Obviously, I’ve had concussions in the past and it’s something I have to deal with, but right now everything is in the right direction. Everything is pointing forward. I’m excited that it’s all behind me.”

Mueller, a left winger whose good health could be a major key to how successful the Avs are this coming season, has been skating regularly and will undergo physicals with the rest of the team Sept. 16. Assuming he passes, he’ll be on the ice with no restrictions the next day, the first of training camp.

The Avs are going to need Mueller if they plan to keep up with everyone in the Western Conference somehow. The team made a dynamic switch in goal getting rid of both Brian Elliott and Peter Budaj and bringing in Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere. They also added Jan Hejda to paper-thin defense that will have to play above their heads to keep the team in games. Add that to a forward corps that boasts Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, Milan Hejduk, and potentially 2011 first round pick Gabriel Landeskog and there’s reason to be hopeful for a run at the playoffs in Denver. After being so miserable two out of the last three seasons, however, it doesn’t look too promising.

If Mueller can get back into the form he’s shown he’s capable of as a 20-goal, 50-point per season threat, marks he reached in his rookie season in Phoenix, the Avalanche at least don’t have to worry about keeping up offensively. Defensively, however, is another issue entirely. That’s not totally for Mueller to worry about though. Staying healthy and producing offensively are what’s on his plate for now, let’s just hope that he can avoid any further concussion problems. We’ve had enough of those to last for a long time.

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.