Erik Gudbranson will make his season debut tonight for the Florida Panthers against the Philadelphia Flyers after missing the first nine games of the campaign due to the recovery from a wakeboarding accident he had during the offseason.
Gudbranson hurt his shoulder while wakeboarding in September 2012 and originally the whole thing was rather hush-hush, leading people to wonder if he did something hockey-related to get the injury. But Gudbranson, in a show of maturity past his 21 years, made sure to call his coach, team management and all of his teammates to let them know the real story. He told SportsNet that he felt the effort to pick up the phone and tell everyone was the right thing to do and went a long way in their eyes.
Telling the truth ended up saving the Panthers some money, too. Because the injury wasn’t hockey-related, they didn’t have to pay him during the lockout. Other teams with players who got injured via hockey were entitled to care from their team doctors during the work stoppage. The Panthers did suspend him, though.
Recuperating back at home with his parents in Ottawa, Gudbranson’s mom and dad made sure that he was on top of his rehab exercises and his eating habits. He said that, while he probably drove his parents nuts by the end of things, the care and consistency really helped him recover.
Now the player who won the OHL’s Bobby Smith Trophy for scholastic player of the year in 2009-10 and was selected third overall at the 2010 draft–you know, right behind those two other guys who kind of hogged the spotlight that year–is ready to get his sophomore season underway. The young defenseman had two goals and six assists in 72 games last year.
The underachieving Keaton Ellerby has been scratched for this game to make room for Gudbranson.