Ryan Kesler is finally back at practice. His teammates good-natured ribbing of him is in playoff form, mind you.
Kesler took to the ice in a Vancouver Canucks' full workout for the first time this season on Sunday. He led the opening stretch sequence, prompting both a rousing stick tapping from his teammates and Kevin Bieska to sneak up from behind him and drape a white cape with Kesler's No. 17 on over his back.
When Bieksa was approached by a gaggle of media afterwards and the first question was regarding Kesler, there were chuckles from teammates nearby and a couple of "I told you so's."
Kesler, a member of the Canucks' core group for the past few seasons, underwent surgery on his left shoulder on May 8 and on his left wrist on June 27.
"It was great to have him out there," said Bieksa. "He was flying around out there.
"We haven't seen him in awhile. He's been on his own schedule, doing his rehab and his training. As a team, we haven't seen him a whole lot. It was nice to get him out there, joking around a little bit.
"I can't take credit for that [the cape]. I was just the messenger. That's the trainers. The trainers have been spending the most time with him, unfortunately for them. They've gotten the brunt of his frustration."
Bieksa followed that up with an "it was all in good fun." The smiles, across Canuck Nation, will be much bigger, of course, when Kesler gets back up to speed and returns to a line-up that's appeared challenged offensively to date.
He said that there was no timeline on his return, although he will be travelling with the team for the upcoming road trip, which sees them visit the Edmonton Oilers on Monday and the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.
He said that he needed to work on his strength and timing and "feeling comfortable in one-on-one battles."
"I had to be patient," he said of returning to practice with the team. "That was my biggest thing. I had to keep telling myself 'baby steps.' It's a process and you can't get ahead of the process.
Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Kesler+takes+first+full+practice+still+ways+from+playing+Luongo+gets+fourth+straight+start/7912302/story.html#ixzz2JvlgpIBx
Kesler takes first full practice, but still a ways from playing
Vancouver Province | Feb 4