Kelly hopeful he can return this season from broken leg

Kelly hopeful he can return this season from broken leg
March 15, 2013, 1:45 pm
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WILMINGTON, MA -– Chris Kelly has never missed more than seven games during any of his eight full NHL seasons.

So he’s not too enamored with the prospect of watching from the sidelines for the next couple of months with a broken bone in his left leg.

But that’s exactly what Kelly will be doing for the foreseeable future after breaking his left tibia earlier this week on the road against the Ottawa Senators. The 32-year-old says there’s no timetable for his return to the lineup, but he hopes to be back before the end of the regular season.

“It won’t be the best time, but I’ve got to try to get back sooner rather than later,” said Kelly.

The third line center said he was initially relieved when the Ottawa team doctor told him there didn’t seem to be anything structurally wrong with his left knee.

But Kelly knew there was something wrong when it didn’t get any better in the next couple of days while traveling with the team. The good news is that no surgery was needed to repair the break.

“I’m just trying to get it better. There’s no real time-frame. I just come here and work hard, and let the doctors and training staff do their job,” said Kelly, who is using ice and stimulation treatment to get the swelling down in his left leg. “I just want to make sure I don’t lose any strength in my leg. You just have to let it heal and hope for the best. It’s one of those things where time will let it heal on its own.”

One thing Kelly wanted to make clear: there were no hard feelings against former Ottawa teammate Chris Neil for the knee-on-leg hit that the hard-working pivot termed a “hockey play” gone wrong. Kelly also said Neil contacted him several times over this week to express his sympathies about the hit that resulted in a major injury.

“It was just a hockey play. It was one of those things that happened really quickly,” said Kelly. “I don’t think either one of us had the chance to get out of the way. I don’t think it was malicious by any means."

“[Neil] has reached out a few times and he feels pretty badly. I’m moving forward and I’m sure he will too. Our friendship will continue. I just hope he doesn’t hit me like that again.”

Most other NHL players that have experienced the same injury have been out for roughly six weeks, so a return before the end of the regular season would seem slightly optimistic. But that’s the mindset Kelly has to have after suffering a major injury just as it appeared he was turning the corner on a disappointing season in Boston.

“You’ve got to look on the bright side of things,” said Kelly. “It could have been worse.”

Brad Marchand has consistently called Kelly the “grumpiest” guy on the Bruins team, so that kind of unfettered optimism from an injured player is downright inspiring as Boston weathers the first major injury of the 2013 season.