General manager David Poile and head coach Peter Laviolette fielded questions at a press conference Wednesday morning, with Poile opening up the event by talking about the state of the Nashville Predators and where players are in terms of injury.
After an incredible run that ended in heartbreak in the Stanley Cup Final, the Preds will look to quickly turn around for the expansion draft and the offseason. Poile opened by discussing Nashville forward Ryan Johansen, who has suffered from acute compartment syndrome.
“We expect a complete recovery,” Poile said. “[Johansen’s] ahead of schedule. If you’ve seen him, he’s walking without crutches. I think he’s going to get clearance to start working out on a more regular basis in two or three weeks.”
Poile also took time to praise Kevin Fiala’s work towards recovery from a broken femur, and spoke positively about both players’ progress.
“Fiala has been unbelievable in terms of how’s hard he has worked,” Poile said. “Doctors have never seen anybody so far ahead of schedule. The bottom line is that both those guys will be fine by the time we get to training camp.”
Poile also provided quick updates on Craig Smith and Colin Wilson, who are recovering from a high-ankle sprain and a hamstring injury respectively.
Another player still dealing with injury is defenseman Ryan Ellis, but Poile did not disclose what the exact nature of the problem was. Nashville is waiting for more information, with Poile saying, “We need a further medical update. When we know the extent of it, we’ll let you know.”
However, he did give some context of James Neal’s hand injury that plagued him over the course of the postseason.
“Neal was a really interesting story,” Poile said. “He broke his hand in Game 1 of the Anaheim series, and I’m sure that doesn’t surprise anybody. I don’t know how many of you were watching everyday but in practice he never shot a puck in practice since that happened and he had to get it shot up every game just to be able to play.”
Neal notched three goals and two assists since his injury, including the overtime winner in Game 1 – the game he suffered his injury.
Laviolette provided insight into how the team is recovering mentally and how he and the players are feeling after the disappointment of losing in the final.
“The message is never easy when you don’t complete what you started,” Laviolette said. “We just fell short. There’s always gonna be a disappointment… More than anything, I think there’s a pit there, an emptiness of not getting all the way.”
But Laviolette also made sure that those in attendance know that the disappointment is also a source of hunger and pride, and that the Preds have no regrets over this past season.
“One thing we always said was that we didn’t wanna look back with regret,” Laviolette said. “There is none for the way that we played. Our guys played their hearts out.”