If the NHL season had started on time it wouldnt have mattered for Adam McQuaid.
The rugged Bruins defenseman told CSNNE.com he underwent surgery in early October for thoracic outlet syndrome after a blood clot developed under his collarbone. The surgery would have knocked him out until late January or early February.
McQuaid, 26, said his right arm blew up after one of the skating sessions at Harvard University in mid-September. He needed to undergo two significant surgeries at Mass General Hospital within a couple of weeks of each other, one to remove the dangerous clot, and another to prevent the condition from recurring in his arm.
McQuaid needed to have an entire rib removed along with part of his neck muscle as part of the procedure. He has been recovering slowly in the Boston area since then.
According to McQuaid, the injury can sometimes be caused by whiplash, and might have been the reason he had experienced neck injuries in each of the last few seasons most notably in the playoffs against the Flyers during Bostons Stanley Cup run.
It happened in the first week working out at Harvard. Im on the road to recovery, but I still have a ways to go yet, McQuaid told CSNNE.com. The reason behind the surgery is to prevent it from happening again. It should be fine once Im fully recovered.
It could have been a lot worse. Now its been taken care of and I can get back to regular activity. Im just getting my feet under me right now.
The 6-foot-5 defenseman has been completely out of action for the last few months, not to mention extremely bored without any hockey to watch. Luckily McQuaid has medical coverage under the NHLPA that covered his medical expenses during the labor stoppage, but he cant get any treatment from the Bruins medical staff while the lockout is ongoing.
I would have been hit with a pretty big medical bill, so Im lucky that Im taken care of in that way, said McQuaid, who just went on the ice for the first time on Tuesday but did not shoot any pucks.
McQuaid said he didnt have time to be scared when his arm first began giving him trouble, but now he has to battle through arm weakness and nerve damage following the surgery. He admitted he still gets some tingling in his fingers as the nerves continue to heal from the surgery.
McQuaid is just now getting back on the ice to stretch his legs as he did Wednesday morning, but, essentially, he didn't do anything more than skate in circles while his teammates went through drills at the other end of the rink.
Its following the same protocol you always would. Ideally you get back as quick as you can, but I definitely still have a ways to go, said McQuaid, who said its a three-and-a-half to four-month recovery from the time of surgery.
I need to try and get back to not only using my arm, but giving a hit and taking a hit. Im taking it one step at a time, but getting back on the ice and being around the guys is a good start.
Arm strength is of particular importance to a guy like McQuaid, who has made his bones in the NHL as a tough guy that can stand toe-to-toe with anybody in a hockey fight.
The hope is that McQuaid could be ready to go in four-to-six weeks if the NHL comes to an agreement on a CBA over the next month, but the Bs defenseman admitted the recovery timetable for the surgery a rare one in the hockey world is different for each individual.
A conservative estimate would put McQuaid on course for a return in February, and that also means there could be a spot open on the Bs roster for an extra defenseman. A group hopefuls, including Garnet Exelby, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, Colby Cohen and Tommy Cross could be competing for the spot as they play in Providence.
For now McQuaid is simply rehabbing as he normally would from an in-season injury and waiting for the lockout to end just like everybody else.
Its obviously a different situation for me. I wouldnt have been playing regardless the last few months but going into it I dont think anybody thought the lockout would go into this stage of the season, said McQuaid. I know the guys skating here are getting tired of it and anxious to get back. I know the guys over in Europe want to get back here as well.
It would have been nice for me to have some hockey to watch. I can look at it from a fans perspective for a while because Id be sitting on the couch watching the games. Hopefully something will get worked out soon.
Hopefully the NHL season will return soon, and hopefully McQuaid is eventually ready for a full return to Bostons lineup after enduring such a significant health scare.