HIS jersey ws soaked, he was out of breath and sweated dripped from his forehead often during a seven-minute media scrum.
And throughout the whole thing Zach Bogosian couldn't -- and wouldn't -- wipe the size-large grin from his face. Little wonder -- the last time the 22-year-old defenceman was actually on the ice with his teammates was in April 2012 and his return to practice Thursday morning was a huge step in his recovery from off-season wrist surgery.
"I've missed this. I'm a pretty competitive guy," said Bogosian. "Any time you see a tight game or you see guys battling, blocking shots and the right things to win you want to be down there being the guy that's actually doing it.
"I'm the type of guy that wants to do anything to win. I do miss the battles, I do miss the competitiveness and getting prepared for games. Today felt good because it kind of felt like a game day for me as far as coming in at the correct time with the other guys and being back in a routine."
Bogosian spent most of the lockout getting treatment with Jets medical staff -- in essence isolated from the rest of his teammates while they trained at the MTS Iceplex. And, admittedly, he struggled with the ups and downs that come with every post-surgery rehab.
"I tell you one thing, I have a lot more appreciation for people who actually do get surgery. That was my first one," Bogosian said. "It's a mental battle. You have your ups and downs. There's good weeks, bad weeks, good days, bad days. Once you get over that hump mentally it goes forward from there. It's tough sitting at home... you don't realize how much you use your hand until you can't really use it. It feels good that it's getting back to where it's supposed to be."
No set time has been determined 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.
Meanwhile, head coach Claude Noel confirmed that Dustin Byfuglien -- who did not dress Thursday and has now missed the last four games with an undisclosed injury -- was back on the ice in the morning 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 the return of either player.
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