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Manny Malhotra overcomes eye concerns, will make NHL comeback Friday

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy

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We last saw Manny Malhotra in the NHL on Feb. 9 during a 5-1 Vancouver Canucks victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Five days later he was shutdown for the season by general manager Mike Gillis, who called the move "...the hardest thing I’ve done in this job."

The fear was that Malhotra's left eye, which was injured after being hit by a deflected puck in 2011, would become a safety issue and it would limit his ability on the ice to play and avoid hits.

He wasn't re-signed by the Canucks after last season and after no offers came in over the summer, he signed a tryout contract with the Carolina Hurricanes' AHL club, the Charlotte Checkers earlier this month. He played eight games and recorded no points. (And did a fantastic deed for a teammate.)

After signing a one-year, two-way deal with the Hurricanes on Thursday, Malhotra practiced with the team on Friday and will play against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Skating on the fourth line with Drayson Bowman and Brett Sutter, he'll get a second chance at the NHL.

From Chip Alexander of the News and Observer:

"I always believed," Malhotra said after the morning skate. "I believed in myself and my family believed in me. I knew that I still had something to contribute to a team."

There is a connection between Malhotra the Hurricanes. He and head coach Kirk Muller played together for two seasons with the Dallas Stars in 2001-02 and 2002-23.

Malhotra told Alexander that his eye injury was never a concern in regards to playing, despite what others thought. That's a good thing. You never want to see a guy leave the game for good earlier than they had planned. The offensive abilities may not comeback with him in his return, but as he proved in those nine games last year (65.3-percent), he's still a great presence in the face-off circle.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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