The odds of returning are long, but Mattias Ohlund isn’t ready to give up.
The Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman is two months removed from massive knee surgery — resurfacing his femur with a layer of titanium at the patellofemoral joint — and says the improvements are already noticeable.
So much so that he’s not ruling out a return to the NHL.
“Do I have a dream to still play hockey? Yeah, I do,” Ohlund told the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m slowly getting better. But I don’t know what the end result will be.
“Nobody has told me this is impossible.”
Ohlund says the biggest improvements come in his day-to-day life. Walks with the family used to result in “laying on the couch with my knees up and ice packs on them,” something that’s no longer the case. He’s living pain-free and more than doubled the number of exercise reps he does on his knee.
So…is a comeback really possible?
Tough call. The 34-year-old missed all of 2011-12 to the injury and there’s still no timetable for return. He hasn’t even started jogging yet and Bolts GM Steve Yzerman told the Times he’s working under the assumption Ohlund won’t play.
That said, Yzerman wishes he had the veteran Swede available.
“He was such an important part of our team (in 2010-11),” Yzerman said. “If we were able to get him back it would be a big help.”
Ohlund is on the books for four more years at $11.75 million, which includes $5 million in salary for 2012-13. As such, he’s still pushing to get back in the mix.
“I can see improvements,” he said. “I’m not sure where it will take me but I’m quite positive about how I feel compared to a couple of months ago.”