On the morning of the Bruins @ Islanders game, Chris Kelly held court for the morning media in the dressing room. He was activated off of IR the next night against Florida. The media was curious about his recovery from last year’s left tibia fracture and this year’s right fibula fracture. The playful thirty-three year old center-man, who is the alternate captain during away games and won the Stanley Cup with the B’s in 2011, thoroughly enjoyed the media attention and was eager to return to play.
Media: What are you thinking about the game tomorrow (1/28/14) against Florida; are you ready to get in there?
CK: You always want to play, and get back [from injury] as quickly as possible. But in the whole picture, being conservative, a lot of the time, is better. The schedule, how the team is doing, the time of the year, and the way things go dictates a lot and the decisions that are made.
Media: Conditioning-wise, how do you feel right now?
CK: I feel really good! So good, that I didn’t need to be bag-skated today (laughing, along with the media)! JB: You look good (says Johnny Boychuk as he eavesdropped on the conversation)!
CK: Oh, thank you, Johnny! That’s the nicest thing someone’s said to me today! (Turning back to the media) Yeah, I feel really good and we’ve worked hard. Through this whole process and right from the start, I have made sure I kept my conditioning at a certain level. It has been about being smart about the injury and being smart moving forward.
Media: Is it easier or more difficult at this point, knowing you are going to play tomorrow [against the Panthers], because for all intents and purposes, you probably could play tonight [against the Islanders]?
CK: It’s never easy to watch; to be honest, I try not to watch as much as possible because it’s difficult. You’re so invested, but there is a helpless feeling because you can’t do anything when you’re not playing. But when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s good to see and something that gives you excitement. It’s good to be around the guys, too. When you’re skating and doing workouts by yourself, it gets lonely. It’s such a great team and a great bunch of guys that you do miss them.
Media: Are there lessons that you learned from (your injury) last year, that gave you an idea of how you’re going to have to be for when you come back this time?
CK: Last year, because of certain circumstances—it was towards the end of the year, it was a shortened season, playoffs were right around the corner—I wanted to get back as quickly as possible. When you’re back, a lot of the outside world just assumes you are at 100%. Most times, that isn’t the case, but as players, as soon as you’re given a timeframe [for your return to play], you say, “Well, I can beat that time, I can get back sooner.” I learned that last year, it did take me a while to get back [to form]; I wasn’t at 100%, but who is? Ninety-nine percent of the guys aren’t at 100%, and they play through. I’m hoping that because [my time on IR] was longer than anticipated, I will feel good right from the start.
Media: Someone had said the amount of time you were off has been like training camp.
CK: Yeah, it’s been seven weeks; it’s like a summer! Had I known, back in the summer, that I was going to be out seven weeks [during the season], I wouldn’t have done anything in the summer! I would have sat back, and relaaaaxed… Just kidding, haha. I was out longer this time than I was over the summer; we took a week off in the summer and were back in the gym, then back on the ice shortly after that. Still, you try to take advantage of bad situations and make them a positive.
Media: Well, now you have a two-and-a-half to three week Olympic break coming up, unless you get called at the last minute because of injuries.
CK: Umm…I’ll definitely hide my phone (giggles Chris, along with everyone else)! Or, let me put that differently: I won’t be waiting by my phone!
RK: What kind of advice would you give to people who are going through ups and downs like you recently have?
CK: You know, someone once told, “If it’s not going to affect your life in two years, don’t sweat it.” It’s kind of the case here. It’s a game of injuries, there are going to be ups and downs regardless of hockey or life in general. Just try to stay positive because negative energy just weighs on you. Try to stay upbeat, put a smile on every day, and work hard. That way you will get the most out of that day. That’s what I tried to do this time. There are some bad, frustrating days, when you aren’t progressing like you want to, but that’s part of the process and you just move forward.
Media: Does that [mentality] impact anything in terms of wanting to get enough games in before the [Olympic] break, and getting back to a rhythm?
CK: Yes and no. You try to look at it as a positive. We have seven games til the break, so I [will] work hard for whatever amount of games I’m back and then we have a break, so the injury can heal even more. I can have more time skating and getting back to really being part of the team, and at a level playing field with the rest of the league. Well, not the rest, because the guys at the Olympics, I’m sure, will still be going, haha, but the other guys.