EDMONTON, Alberta — Michal Handzus had the look of a man who’s seen the light at the end of his injury tunnel.
The veteran center has been sidelined since late October with an upper-body injury. Through his early recovery skates, a setback and then more skates, Handzus just tried to stay positive, knowing he’d get healthy eventually.
“I’ve been on a table too long,” said Handzus on Saturday afternoon. “Hopefully this is over and I can have fun in the (locker) room. I haven’t had that in a long time because I’ve been in the training room for too long.”
Handzus is close to having fun again. He joined the team in Vancouver, and coach Joel Quenneville said Handzus could play soon, possibly against Edmonton on Monday night or against Calgary on Wednesday. It’s great news for a veteran who’s had his share of injuries since the 2012-13 postseason but is ready to rejoin the “fun.”
“It’s very frustrating,” Handzus said of his injuries. “I love to play the game but it is what it is. You just put your head down and work hard. I’ve worked hard I felt good (Saturday) and feel like I’m on track.”
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Handzus was a pleasant surprise for the Blackhawks last postseason. When Handzus was first acquired from the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline, Quenneville figured he’d be a solid fourth-line center. But Handzus was playing great when the playoffs commenced, and he moved into that much-ballyhooed second-line center spot. He found chemistry with Patrick Sharp — the two were teammates in Philadelphia years before — and played well through several injuries.
Handzus can still have that versatility with the Blackhawks.
“Last year when he joined our team, we used him in a bunch of different ways,” Quenneville said. “He plays center, kills penalties, he’s very reliable and we’re comfortable with him in many different places.”
Regarding his injury, Handzus didn’t want to elaborate — “upper body, I guess,” he said with a grin. As far as the setback he had a few weeks ago, Handzus said, “it was very short, nothing major. I just had to take a couple of days off. If anything it was almost planned.”
Handzus doesn’t want to look in the past anymore, be it about his injury, his first few games this season tin which he struggled or even that Cup he hoisted for the first time last spring. It’s all about moving forward, all about what he can do now.
Whatever he does on the ice, it’s better than spending time on that table.
“You don’t look back,” he said. “I know I feel better. I know I can play better than those first nine games. I haven’t played my best; I know what I need to do to get better. And when I jump in, I’ll be ready.”