P.K. Subban joins Canadiens for first full practice since neck injury

P.K. Subban joins Canadiens for first full practice since neck injury

When P.K. Subban fell to the ice following his awkward collision with teammate Alexei Emelin on March 10, he made sure to move his hands and legs in order to let any family members watching know that whatever was afflicting him wasn’t dire.

“It’s a scary situation. The good thing is there’s no structural damage,” Subban told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just about, pretty much, getting my mobility back. That’s the scary thing. You don’t wanna be in a position where you don’t have that mobility and you get hit and you make the situation worse. Until that clears up, then I can definitely play and do contact out there."

Nearly two weeks since being stretchered off the Bell Centre ice, Subban was cleared for contact and practiced fully with his Montreal Canadiens teammates on Wednesday. He’s still experiencing symptoms from what the team called a “non-serious neck injury,” and while he’s missed Montreal’s last six games and will sit out Thursday’s tilt versus the Detroit Red Wings, he will join the Canadiens on the road to the Motor City.

During his recovery doctors have been working on the rotation and mobility of his neck, and while there have been good days and bad days, Subban said he feels there’s been positive progression.

“It’s a little tough when you’re out there and you’re struggling to see over your shoulder,” Subban said. “With the way the game is being played now, it’s so fast, you can’t afford to lose that half a second. That half a second is either that you turn the puck over and it ends up in your net or you can end up getting hurt. It’s a fine line, and the way I play the game it’s instinctive and a big part of it is about my instincts and I don’t want to take that out of my game. I’d rather have somebody out there who deserves the opportunity to play at 100-percent and go out there than put my team in jeopardy.”

The Canadiens have eight games remaining in their season, and Wednesday’s progress was a step in the right direction for Subban to return before their April 9 finale. As much as he’d like to be out there, however, he’s content with waiting until doctors give the green light to resume game action.

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Montreal has gone 2-4-0 in the six games Subban’s missed, the first extended period of time he’s been out of the lineup in his career. Watching from the sidelines has been tough for the 26-year-old defenseman, especially as the Canadiens close out a season to forget.

“The toughest thing probably for me is sitting out during this time,” Subban said. “You never want to be one of those guys where you come into the rink and guys are wondering when you’re back in the lineup and I don’t have an answer for them. I don’t like being in that situation. I always find myself in the opposite situation where I’m on the ice and helping our team get through the tough times, not being a spectator watching our team go through tough times.

“It’s definitely tough, but at the same token I just try to keep a positive attitude and just take care of what I can control and that’s trying to get healthy as quickly as I can.”

Stick-tap Amanda Stein for the audio