Ryan Kesler is back.

At least, that’s what head coach Alain Vigneault promised.

Vigneault said he’s planning to give Kesler limited minutes against the Dallas Stars. Kesler was coy about it, claiming he didn’t know he was playing. Maybe he didn’t. It wouldn’t be the first time he wasn’t on the same page as his coach.

Vigneault said he has Kesler in the lineup, on the second line, on the team’s first power-play unit, and will need him to pick up the faceoff slack left by Manny Malhotra, who was, well, told to go home.

Is that all? Good luck with managing those minutes.

Kesler said he wouldn’t come back unless he’s 100 per cent. So, he must be ready to reprise his role as the team’s heart and soul. Right?

He doesn’t plan to change the way he plays, either. You know, the often daring-but-reckless, gutsy-but-risky style that, when he’s on, can look like he’s driving a stock car and taking turns just a little too fast.

It’s made him oh-so productive when he’s healthy, but oh-so disappointing when he’s injured. Quite the quandary. But Kesler said he doesn’t see any other way.

“The way I play is the reason I’m successful,” Kesler said. “I’m not one of those guys who is going to get by on their skill alone. I have to be one of the hardest-working guys out there.”

He’s 28 and has already had two hip surgeries, one for his finger, one for his wrist and another to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder in May. He was supposed to be ready in five months after the shoulder surgery, but it’s been nine. Things turned complicated after it was concluded he needed wrist surgery in June.

“I’ve learned a lot over the past few years about injury prevention and taking care of my body,” Kesler said. “Not only on the ice, but off the ice. There are things I can do to help prevent injuries.”



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