There must have been days when Zach Bogosian wondered if this moment would ever come.
But now, finally, his return to the Winnipeg Jets lineup can be measured in days, not weeks and months.
The Jets’ big defenceman, who had wrist surgery last August and has yet to suit up for a game this season, was back on the ice for the first time with his teammates Thursday morning and he did little to hide his enthusiasm when meeting with reporters afterward.
"It felt good to be out there with the guys. The last team practice I had was last April," said Bogosian as the Jets wrapped up preparation for Thursday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m.; TSNJets/ TSN1290). "It’s feeling good. Obviously with the recovery there are going to be ups and downs, but it’s been feeling good lately and the last few weeks have been positive weeks for me mentally.
"It feels good. I haven’t had any setbacks for awhile."
No set time has been set for Bogosian’s return, although he will accompany the team to Ottawa for Saturday’s game against the Senators. It’s likely he’ll get the green light once the wrist holds up to more tests in practice.
"I practised pretty good today so I’m pretty well into most of the things that are going on," Bogosian said. "Now it’s just a matter of time to see about the timing and stuff.
"Right now this is just one step in the process. I’m not going to go behind the eight ball here. I’m just trying to stay focused on getting back. It’s definitely been a long recovery and I’m just looking forward to getting back with the team."
Meanwhile, head coach Claude Noel said Dustin Byfuglien – who has missed the last three games with an undisclosed injury – was back on the ice today working with Lee Stubbs, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, as well as Antti Miettinen, who is out with an upper-body injury.
No timetable has been set for Byfuglien’s return, either.