After taking a nasty hit from behind from Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon back in December of 2011, Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe still played for the majority of the remainder of last season.
The effects of that hit, however, still lingered going into this past summer, with neck and back issues leading Gerbe to have off-season spinal surgery in July. Due to the surgery, Gerbe was unable to skate for six months.
Gerbe was finally able to begin skating in early December. Thankfully, due to the NHL Lockout going into early January, Gerbe was able to use that time skating to prepare for the start of the abbreviated and belated 2012-2013 NHL season.
While Gerbe had made progress, he was not ready for game-action when the Sabres needed to set their 23-man season opening roster before their first game on Sunday, Jan. 20, and the Sabres placed him on Injured Reserve.
After missing the Sabres first two games, Gerbe participated in his first full practice since the surgery on Wednesday, Jan 23, skating on a line with off-season acquisition Steve Ott and rookie Mikhail Grigorenko.
While Gerbe would have to be cleared by team doctors to play during Thursday night’s game in Carolina, Gerbe feels he’s ready to go and would like to play.
"I hope I’m playing," said Gerbe. "It’s been a very long, long, long recovery for me. I’ve been out since basically April, and to come back this is my first game lockout or no lockout, this is about the time I’d be ready anyways, so I’m pretty excited. Hopefully, all the hard work I put in the last six months is going to help."
If activated off of Injured Reserve, the Sabres will need to clear a roster spot. It is possible they could place forward Ville Leino on Injured Reserve, who has missed the first two games due to a leg injury.