It’s a small, teeny-tiny step in Eric Fehr’s long road back to the starting lineup.
But it is an important one.
Fehr, the Winnipeg Jets’ winger working on his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery, worked out with a trainer at MTS IcePlex today in just his second on-ice session of the summer. He worked on his skating and passing and did fire some pucks around at empty nets.
And while he’s not blasting slapshots just yet, every day does bring him closer to a return to action and a spot – he hopes – on one of the Jets’ top two lines.
"I wasn’t shooting it that hard yet, I was just floating it in there," said Fehr after signing autographs for a handful of fans. "I’m slowly working on getting that increased, but the shock effect from a shot when you have to recoil your muscles is what gets you after surgery. So I’m just trying to mostly get a feel for skating and stick-handling and as I get stronger I’ll be able to start shooting a little bit harder."
"Mostly," he added with a grin, "I’m trying to make sure my hands still work."
Fehr, the 25-year-old Winkler product acquired from the Washington Capitals in July for tough guy Danick Paquette and Winnipeg’s fourth-round pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft, tore the labrum in his shoulder last January in a collision with a teammate. After the season he had surgery and the long recovery will likely cause him to miss the opening of the season.
In the meantime he’ll just keep hammering away in his rehabilitation with the hope of returning to the Jets and working his way into a spot on the top two lines.
"I can’t wait for the season to start," Fehr said. "This summer has been one of the longest ones I can remember. I’m missing hockey right now and just seeing the guys skating, I want to be out there. It’s tough right now to hold the reins back a little bit, but at the end of the day I think it’s important for me to be as strong as I can be before the season gets going.
"This is something I want to be the last time I go through. I understand it’s going to be tough for the first month of the season when we’re starting up and the excitement of the city... that’s something I want to really be a part of. But long term I’ve got to be healthy."
Fehr, just FYI, was wearing a white helmet with the ‘Jets’ script logo featured on each side. A photo of the Jets’ pants was Tweeted by teammate Blake Wheeler on Tuesday, but the jersey won’t be unveiled until next month.