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Couture Part of Morning Skate for 1st Time This Year: ‘I was part of the team again’

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

For the first time in probably a long time, Logan Couture was all smiles on the ice.

Today, the San Jose Sharks captain participated in morning skate. This was a big step for Couture, who’s been out all season with a lower-body injury, the first time that he’s participated in a normal gameday this season.

“It’s the game I love,” he said. “Not being able to play it for a long time sucks.”

While there’s still no timeline for Couture’s return, he hopes to participate in a full Sharks practice tomorrow, another significant step toward his return.

Today wasn’t just a physical hurdle either, it was a mental one.

“I felt like I was part of the team again,” Couture said. “It’s good to be around the guys.”

It wasn’t just skating at the same time with the rest of his team.

“Being a part of the meeting was good, getting my mind turned back on to hockey because the last few months has just been rehab and injury and get healthy and all that,” he said.

Couture is hoping that he’s turned the corner after on-again, off-again skating since his injury was first announced on the opening day of San Jose Sharks training camp on Sept. 21.

The beginning of the season was hard on him.

“Tough days when you’re injured and you’re on your own,” Couture said. “Coming to the facility here, guys are on the road, and you got to turn the lights on, and one other coach will come with you. It’s lonely.”

Couture Talks Injury: ‘When you’re injured, your mind does some crazy things’

But that’s also when he had a breakthrough.

“I think the big progress was made during the long road trip. That’s when I started to turn the corner with my rehab,” Couture said of the Sharks’ recent six-game East Coast swing in early December. “I’ve been going up to San Francisco four or five times a week and putting a lot of work in there with the rehab. Just something clicked and started to feel a lot better, started to skate more often, felt way better on the ice, didn’t re-aggravate my injury. That was kind of the point where I was hopeful that I was going to get over the hump.

“Before that, I really didn’t know. I would feel good, I would skate, then I would feel terrible and have to take weeks off.”

Couture had skated more or less on his own throughout October but had to shut it down for most of November.

Since the beginning of December, Couture has skated with injured Sharks like Oskar Lindblom, Ryan Carpenter, and Nico Sturm. Development coach Mike Ricci, Joe Thornton, and ex-teammate Aaron Dell have also been around.

Dell was just signed by the Carolina Hurricanes to a PTO.

“They must have saw some film,” Couture laughed. “Happy for him. He’s a guy who I think can still play in the NHL. He was still good when we shot on him last week.

“He was actually going to come yesterday, but he got the more important call to go to Carolina. We had to go goalie-less yesterday. But I hope he sticks there. He’s a great guy.”

Couture got the okay just yesterday from his San Francisco rehabilitation therapist that he could participate in morning skate.

“Can’t lie. Last night I went to bed and started racing through my head,” he shared. “Laying in bed for a little while, trying to remind myself of the systems we play. The drills that we’re going to do in morning skate. I was excited and nervous at the same time.”

So how did his first day back at school go?

“Probably the hardest I’ve gone so far,” he said, “we’ll see how my body reacts.”

“He’s further along than he’s ever been,” head coach David Quinn acknowledged.

Even if Couture continues to progress, however, don’t expect a quick comeback. Remember, he hasn’t played high-level hockey since the end of last season.

“I feel slow and bad with the puck, but I gotta remind myself I haven’t played hockey in a long time,” he admitted. “I’ve haven’t been in a game since last April. It’s going to take time. I think it’ll come back quickly, at least, I hope so.”

Couture and the San Jose Sharks are still taking it a day at a time with his recovery.

“Hopefully, everything goes well the rest of the day, I feel good and recover well and wake up tomorrow feeling good, and we’ll go from there,” he said. “I’m happy that I’m at the point now where I can focus [on] hockey.”

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