SAN JOSE – Raffi Torres was emphatically clear when asked if he would return this season from a torn right ACL, suffered in a preseason game on Sep. 20.
“Oh yeah. For sure,” Torres told CSNCalifornia.com in an exclusive interview on Saturday night, just before the Sharks-Coyotes game. The Sharks winger, who signed a three-year, $6 million contract extension in the offseason, was hurt when he collided with the Anaheim Ducks’ Emerson Etem just over two weeks ago.
[REWIND: Sharks' Raffi Torres undergoes surgery]
Torres, who had surgery to repair the knee on Sep. 26, has been down this road before.
While playing for Edmonton, he suffered the same injury on Dec. 15, 2007 against Detroit, and missed the rest of the season. He didn’t return until nearly 11 months later on Nov. 1, 2008, moving on to Columbus that offseason.
Although he said this most recent surgery – which involves replacing the damaged ligament with that of a cadaver – was the same as the procedure he underwent in 2007, he seems to be ahead of schedule. Torres is walking around with a slight limp now and has even started light rehab, while last time it took him three weeks to put any weight on the knee.
“From the way it feels right now compared to the first surgery, it’s night and day,” said the 31-year-old.
He also experienced a setback after his first knee surgery, saying that he needed an additional surgery seven months later after some discomfort. That could be why Torres doesn’t want to predict a date for his return, although general manager Doug Wilson told Yahoo! Sports Talk Live’s Jim Kozimor that Torres is expected back “right around the Olympic break” in February, or “just after.” San Jose’s first game after the break is on Feb. 27 at Philadelphia.
Slow and steady will be how Torres approaches his rehab.
“The main thing is to have good days every day. We want to take it slow and do the right stuff, because with the knees if you take a step back, it could set you back if you don’t take it slow,” he said.
As for the play in which he was hurt, Torres doesn’t blame anyone but himself, after he ran into Etem from behind. The Anaheim forward hesitated at the blue line to remain onside just before the two violently collided.
“I didn’t realize Etem had pulled up. It’s totally not his fault, I’ve got to be aware what’s going on with the play. Next thing I know I’m doing a 360 on the ice and saying, ‘what just happened?’ … Big mistake on my part.”
Torres is naturally disappointed that he’s going to have to wait to play another game with the Sharks. He hasn’t seen any real action since Game 1 of the second round of the playoffs against Los Angeles, when he was controversially suspended for the remainder of that series for hitting the Kings’ Jarret Stoll.
“I was looking forward to a fresh start with these guys, so it’s tough,” Torres said. “Those are things I can’t dwell on. Mentally, if I start thinking about that stuff, it’s going to do nothing positive for me.”
Torres, who fit in well with his teammates on the ice and in the dressing room after an April trade with Phoenix last season, has plenty of support.
“This room is so light and upbeat and so loose, it’s great being here. It takes your mind off of the negative things,” he said.