BRIGHTON, MA – The bad news is that Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk won’t be ready to start the regular season after undergoing shoulder surgery over the summer.
The good news is that the puck-moving defenseman should A) be ready for game action a few weeks into the regular season and B) will finally be healthy again after playing the final five months of last season with a chronically bad shoulder.
“I think beginning of November,” said Grzelcyk, when asked about timetables for a return. “Things have been looking really good. They said five months when I first had [the surgery] so you obviously shoot for that. I’m happy to feel a little bit more like myself. I still have a little way to go, but the light is there at the end of the tunnel.”
Matt Grzelcyk injured his right shoulder in a Jan. 22 game against the Winnipeg Jets going into the corner for the puck before getting hit by Pierre-Luc Dubois, and said he knew in the immediate aftermath of that incident that he’d need shoulder surgery following the season.
Matt Grzelcyk is hit into the boards by Dubois and is in some serious pain.
He heads down the tunnel. pic.twitter.com/jAuzcaA1op
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 22, 2022
Still, the 5-foot-9, 174-pound Boston Bruins D-man was back in the lineup less than a week later and played 37 games through the rest of the regular season before suiting up for five of the seven playoff games against the Carolina Hurricanes.
For one of the smallest players on the Boston Bruins roster, that is exactly the kind of toughness combined with responsibility to team that sets the tone for everybody else on a hockey club.
There were a handful of times that Grzelcyk had to leave games because the pain or discomfort was bad enough, and the 28-year-old knew that the injury was keeping him from being as effective as he usually was on the back end.
“It was tough. But we’re going for it every year and you’ll do everything to be on the ice. It’s just unfortunate when you feel like you’re not able to give everything you can sometimes,” said Grzelcyk, who finished with finished with four goals along with career highs in points (24) and plus/minus (plus-22) despite playing with a balky shoulder. “The medical staff did a good job of keeping me in a good place physically as well as mentally and giving me some goals to hit along the way. I can’t give them enough credit. They were huge for me.
“It was torn enough [in January] that they needed to either do it right then or just try and battle your way through the season. You knew it was going to come out a couple of times. It was inevitable. But I would do that all over again, just to be back on the ice with the guys. Anything you can do to join them and not wanting to give up. That was my mindset. Unfortunately, it kind of snowballed by the end.”
The bright side of all this is that Grzelcyk has been on the ice for weeks at this point and began shooting pucks at the start of this week with much improved range of motion back in his shoulder. So he will act as the first wave of the calvary returning from injury at the start of November with McAvoy and Marchand set to return three or four weeks later if all goes according to plan.