UPDATE: Visnovsky’s suspension has been lifted and he has been added to the team’s active roster.
The drawn-out saga of Lubomir Visnovsky‘s late return to the New York Islanders has proceeded to the next step and brings the sometimes controversial defenseman one step closer to actually suiting up for the team.
Visnovsky passed a physical today and will start practicing with the Islanders tomorrow. On this timetable, he keeps the promise his agent set forth that he would be with the team by Feb. 11.
Suspended by the Islanders for failing to report at the start of the 2013 season, Visnovsky’s agent revealed that he was away because of “personal medical reasons with his immediate family” involving his son, if I recall correctly. He had been playing with the KHL team HC Slovan Bratislava in his hometown during the lockout and some fans suspected he was holding out because of a siren song from the competing league luring him to stay.
Especially considering that he protested his trade to the Islanders and even filed a grievance with the NHLPA to have it voided out–a grievance that didn’t stand once it went to arbitration–that option seemed logical enough until his agent said what was really happening.
But if it’s a medical reason, I’m willing to give him a pass. Family comes first, even if it’s inconvenient to the team sometimes. Here’s hoping all is well now and he is not distracted when he does get back on the ice.
If he is back and in tiptop shape, he could potentially do big things for the team. Consider that he made history with the Anaheim Ducks when he put up a hat trick in March 2011. That was the first one ever scored by a defenseman for Anaheim.
He’s already listed on the defense corps roster on the Islanders website and could very well debut when the Islanders face the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 9.