On Mar. 16, Manny Malhotra(notes) was thought to be done for the season after taking a puck to the eye in a game against the Colorado Avalanche. Concerns quickly went from whether or not Malhotra could return during the playoffs to whether or not his career and eyesight was in jeopardy.
A little over two months since he left the Vancouver Canucks lineup, Malhotra has finally been cleared to played as the team prepares for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins.
Malhotra has been skating since May 12 with a full face shield and even after two surgeries late in the regular season, he's still been around the Canucks locker room and was even on the ice when the team was awarded the Presidents' Trophy in April.
Here's Malhotra speaking to the media today about his return:
Canucks GM Mike Gillis said today when the team announced that Malhotra's season was over in March, that wasn't necessarily the case.
"Well, there was a number of reasons we did that. One is privacy issues. He had a severe injury, and it seemed like, notwithstanding us urging people to please respect his privacy, a number of people chose not to, so we wanted to take that pressure away," Gillis said.
The possibility of expectations rising to a level where the thought of Malhotra being back during the playoffs was also a factor in squashing any comeback talk early according to Gillis.
Vancouver is also still discussing whether or not Malhotra's vision meets the NHL requirement for a player coming back from an eye injury.
Malhotra's addition to the Canucks' lineup would only boost things in the room and provide them with added strength to the third line as a guy who can win faceoffs and kill penalties. And with the extra days in-between the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup, that's more time for Malhotra to recover and get back in the swing of things after two months off.