Defenseman Jake McCabe was optimistic Friday that he’ll be able to return from surgery on a herniated disk in time for the Chicago Blackhawks home opener against the Detroit Red Wings but said “I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”
So it was curious to see him on the ice Thursday for the start of training camp at Fifth Third Arena.
But McCabe clarified things Friday: He had the surgery six weeks ago.
“I had a herniated disk, so they went in there and took a disc fragment off that was hitting my nerve, giving me some problems,” he said. “So I feel a lot better now and feel great on the ice.”
He said he’s about two weeks away from being able to take contact but called the prospect of returning in time for the Oct. 12 season opener at the Colorado Avalanche “unrealistic.”
“They said 10 to 12 weeks, so we’ll stick to that,” McCabe said. “So what does that give me, another four weeks from today? Opening night at the (United Center) would be great, but I still have to do a lot of contact before then. So I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“And that’ll be the real test, banging bodies out there with an injury like this.”
McCabe said he’s staying patient so he doesn’t push himself for the Oct. 21 home opener.
“It’s something I’ve been dealing with honestly for four or five years on and off,” he said. “It’s a real pain in the rear and I feel really good now.
“It was a long summer, so I was trying the conservative approach for a while and that wasn’t doing the trick. It became pretty clear I had to get it operated on to get some relief. I did get that relief, so feeling a lot better now.”
Coach Luke Richardson said Wednesday that even though he didn’t want McCabe taking contact, he wanted him to go through drills and be exposed to the new defensive scheme “just to watch and ask questions and talk to the assistant coaches so he has a real good grasp on it.”