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Hurricanes veteran winger Stillman eyes mid-December return

777 Views 0 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  panoo
Canadian Press
Nov 24, 2006, 4:07 PM EST

(CP) - Cory Stillman watched yet another game from the press box Friday as his Carolina Hurricanes beat the Boston Bruins 5-1. It's getting old. "It's time to get back playing," Stillman said from Boston. A long recovery from off-season surgery on his right shoulder is heading into the stretch run. He's eyeing a mid-December return.

"I've been skating every day for the last 3-4 weeks," said the 32-year-old winger. "Every day is better, puck handling, shooting. Right now I'm working on strength and motion and when I get that back I'll be cleared to play in a game."

His absence has left a huge void up front for Carolina. The native of Peterborough, Ont., had 76 points (21-55) in 72 games last season and added another 26 points (9-17) in 25 playoff games, second in playoff scoring, en route to capturing the Stanley Cup.

Stillman hasn't worn the Hurricanes uniform since sipping champagne out of the Cup following Carolina's Game 7 win over Edmonton last June.

"June 19, a date you'll never forget," he said. "But it'll be nice to get back."

The next critical step in his recovery is dropping the blue, non-contact jersey he wears in practice. A checkup next week could clear him for contact.

"I'll see the doctor probably Tuesday and hopefully I can get rid of my blue shirt," said Stillman. "Then I think we want to wait a week or two to see how I respond, day by day. We want to see how I do in a more physical practice and how I feel the next day."

Stillman says the shoulder wasn't bothering him much in the playoffs.

"No, it wasn't bad, but then in the summer I went to pick a hockey bag out of the truck and I could feel my shoulder drop," he said. "Then I knew there were problems and it ended up being worse than I thought it was going to be."

He had minor surgery in early July but then realized in August he needed a more serious procedure done.

"People always ask why I waited so long, until August, to have it done," said Stillman. "Well, I waited because I had surgery July 7 as well.

"I was hoping the minor surgery July 7 would get me through the year but I had to have a major one done."

It's been a frustrating couple of months. It's tough feeling like you're part of the team when you're an injured player. Some of that camaraderie just isn't there.

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