Joni Pitkanen making unexpected comeback bid in Finland

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 02:  Joni Pitkanen #25 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates his goal in the first period as Brayden Schenn #10 of the Philadelphia Flyers reacts on February 2, 2013 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 02: Joni Pitkanen #25 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates his goal in the first period as Brayden Schenn #10 of the Philadelphia Flyers reacts on February 2, 2013 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Hybrid icing. Where would Joni Pitkänen be today if there had been no-touch or hybrid icing in April 2013?

Probably still in the NHL, where mobile scoring defensemen are indeed a coveted commodity. Instead, the former Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman is attempting a comeback bid from a catastrophic heel injury suffered when he crashed into the end boards on an icing play – two and a half years ago.

His heel injury kept him out of hockey until last summer, when Pitkänen began training on ice for the first time. Now, according to Ilta-Sanomat, the 32-year-old defenseman says his rehab has progressed to the point where he believes he can make a potential comeback with Liiga club Kärpät Oulu. He played with that club until making the jump to the NHL as a 20 year old in 2003.

“At this point, the only sure thing is that I join Kärpät strength training,” he told the paper. “My aim is to test how the club foot it takes practice. If it lasts well, it is possible to play during the current period.”

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If it doesn’t happen with Kärpät Oulu, Pitkänen told YLE Sporten that leagues outside of Finland are a possibility.

Keep in mind that Pitkänen never retired in the NHL. He played 535 games and had 282 points, including two 46-point seasons.

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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