The most difficult part of the past few months for Ryan Carter hasn’t been going through shoulder surgery or the rehab that followed. It wasn’t the last month skating every day to the point where he felt he was an extra in “Groundhog Day.”
It was wondering: Was his career over?
“The toughest part is staring in the mirror, sitting on the couch, thinking that was it,” Carter said. “You don’t have the answers. You think maybe it’s not up to me, maybe there isn’t a chance. That was the tough part, not knowing what was ahead.”
During the Wild’s morning skate Friday, the 33-year-old started to look for answers.
For the first time since surgery in early October to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, Carter took to the ice to skate with the team he hopes he will be a part of again.
Carter is expected to skate in practices and morning skates for the rest of the month in what is essentially a tryout. If the team feels he is healthy enough to play, and could help the Wild down the stretch, Carter could earn a contract for the rest of the season.
Carter, a White Bear Lake native who played the past two seasons with the Wild, first hurt the shoulder late last season. He played in the playoffs. Ultimately, after being brought to training camp by the Wild, he decided his shoulder wasn’t healthy enough to play.
After a month with the arm in a sling, he began rehab from the surgery. A month ago he started skating, hard.
It was a difficult four months. At first it was hard for him to even watch Wild games.
“But lately, it’s been fun,” he said. “It’s impressive how they win in a number of different fashions. … You grow up here, you play here, you see them doing well. For me it was wanting to be a part of that, too.”
Not wanting to be a distraction, his appearance Friday was a surprise to some teammates.
“He still wants to play,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He’s been a loyal player here. It doesn’t cost us anything to have another person at practice when we only have 12 forwards in the first place.”
So Carter will get a chance to prove he can help the team, likely in a fourth-line role, bringing his physical play or on the penalty kill.
Not surprisingly, he felt a step slow in his first skate with the team. But he still believes he can play.
“When I think about myself, I’ve always believed in my ability to compete,” he said. “It’s a matter of being able to compete and do well at it. That’s what’s going to have to come, and we’ll see.”
Koivu the writer
In a recently published essay on the website the Players’ Tribune, Mikko Koivu shared memories about being drafted by the Wild, the friends he made along the way, the mentorship of Brian Rolston, becoming team captain and, essentially, coming to think of Minnesota as his home.
He also talks about the rock Devan Dubnyk has been in goal.
It’s something Koivu has wanted to do for a while.
“I was trying to get the word out how much myself and my family appreciates the way people treat us here,” Koivu said. “And what it means for us to be a part of the Cities. You realize it more and more the older you get. Like I said in the article, both our kids were born here. So it really has become a home for us.”
Waiting for Brodin
Boudreau said he hopes Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin, who has been out since fracturing a ring finger against New Jersey on Jan. 17, can return soon.
“But I’m believing seven to 10 days at the most,” Boudreau said. “I hope.’’