Lame Ducks no longer

By Kevin Forbes

In days gone by, an injured pirate might have found amputation as the only solution to his malady, due
to lack of medical knowledge and minimal supplies. Thankfully for these Pirates,
all Anaheim Ducks prospects, none of their injuries resulted in peg legs or hooks for hands. However, their journey back to regular playing condition hasn’t been without its challenges. Between the five players, more than 250 man-games during the 2005-06 regular season and playoffs were missed. Here’s a look at how these Anaheim prospects are rebounding from their numerous afflictions.

Tim Brent, C
2005-06 games played: 37 regular season, 15 playoffs
Injury: Shoulder


The professional career of the former St. Mike’s captain has been rocky, to say the least. Now in his third year in the AHL, Brent’s first two pro seasons were mired with injuries. After an ankle injury that left him spending a large chunk of his rookie year in the comforts of the press box, he was looking to get back on track in his second year. Unfortunately for the Ontario native, his strong start (15 goals and 24 points in 37 games) was cooled by another injury, this time in his shoulder. His history of injury has left the Ontario native hoping that his third year is the charm.


When Hockey’s Future caught up with Brent in December, he admitted that last year’s shoulder injury was something that had been lingering for the past number of years. Said Brent: “The surgeon looked at my injury and said it was an old injury, and it kind of just finished itself off last season.” Brent was fortunate enough to receive exceptional treatment from a surgeon specializing in posterior labrum arthroscopic surgery. “There’s only a few guys in the world that can do [the surgery], and he’s one,” explained
Brent. “It really cut down my rehab time by
50 percent. I was back in four months and usually it’s an eight-month injury.” Indeed, Brent was able to return to Portland’s lineup for the 2006 AHL playoffs, appearing in 15 of the 19 postseason games, scoring four goals and totaling eight points.


Brent’s comeback has been successful to date, especially considering his injury had been affecting him for so long. “I feel better than I have in a while, I don’t have the bad aches and pains that I’ve kind of been going through the last couple years after games and stuff,” said Brent. He was one of the last cuts at the Ducks training camp this past fall and has been a key figure in Portland’s offense so far this year. Despite missing five games with a knee injury earlier this season, he’s scored seven goals and has 16 points in 23 games, which places him fourth on team scoring. He’s a key member of the AHL’s 12th best
penalty kill, with a shorthanded goal to his credit. He’s also scored three with the man advantage and has 30 penalty minutes.

Curtis Glencross, LW
2005-06 games played: 41 regular season, 19 playoffs
Injury: Hip


Of all the players detailed here, Glencross is quite possibly the most intriguing. In the spring of 2004, the undrafted left wing left the University of Alaska Anchorage after finishing his sophomore year to sign a three-year deal with Anaheim. He no doubt expected a number of things: a longer schedule, some time riding the bus in the minors and maybe even a shot at the big show. But what happened next could not have been scripted. Glencross turned heads at his first rookie camp, lining up with current
Ducks Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Unfortunately, the hard-hitting Red Deer native was unable to replicate that success in the AHL, suffering through an injury-filled 2004-05 season, which saw him play only 51 games, and score nine points.


Glencross’ poor luck continued into his second year in the Ducks organization when a hip injury knocked him out of the lineup for almost 40 games of the 2005-06 season. Now in his third year with the Ducks, Glencross is looking to bounce back from those two injury filled
seasons. “It was a tough recovery, but you’ve just got to try to stay positive,” reflected Glencross when Hockey’s Future talked to him in early
December. “When you come back, try to stay healthy.”

Known through college for his hard-hitting play, Glencross admitted that he has had to tone back his game to adapt. “I’ve been more of a role player
[this year]. I’m probably going to be third or fourth line if I make the NHL,” he said. “I was working more on the goal scoring and the playmaking and stuff, and with adjusting to the pro
game — I’ve had to work more on the defensive stuff.”


So far this year, Glencross has played in 24 games, missing four as a healthy scratch. He’s struggled a bit, with two goals and 12 points, down marginally from last season’s pace which saw him score 25 points in 41 games. He’s currently tied for second on the team in penalty minutes with 56, although a large chunk of that time came during a fight-filled match with Providence in late November. He has yet to replicate the success he enjoyed when he first signed with the Ducks and has been unable to grab a larger role in the minors over the years. It’s unknown whether those original star accomplishments were due merely to beginner’s luck or if they were an example of what he can do when given the opportunity. Missing large chunks of seasons makes it difficult to move up in the lineup, and it’s possible that the wear and tear of being constantly injured is beginning to chip away at his chances of ever reaching his potential.

Shane Hynes, RW
2005-06 games played: 12 regular season, 0 playoffs
Injury: Knee


In the same vein as Curtis Glencross, Hynes left the NCAA early to sign on with the Ducks. In the case of the former Cornell skater, he joined the organization last season to begin his professional career with the Portland Pirates. Unfortunately for Hynes, he suffered a traumatic knee injury early in the year that left him missing all but 12 games of his rookie season. In those 12 games, Hynes posted a single goal and four points with the Pirates.


Hynes described the injury to Hockey’s Future as follows, “It happened late November of last year – tore my ACL, partial tear in my LCL, and meniscus. I had total reconstruction of my ACL and meniscus was cleaned up. I did rehab in Calgary for six or seven months, every day.” He attended the Ducks rookie camp in the fall of 2006 and was expected to play in the Pacific Division Shootout, but found himself assigned to Portland early after his knee started to bother him once more. Hynes was then assigned to Augusta Lynx, the Ducks ECHL affiliate where he has remained so far this season. When asked about his knee’s condition, Hynes said, “The doctor said obviously I’m going to have some effects like on my patella tendon, but my knee feels fine. All my tendons are fine, I’m going to have obviously a little problem with tendonitis, but other than that, it’s fine.” He also admits that it has been a slow road coming back from missing so much time, but is quick to note that he feels his play is improving as he continues to rebound.


Hynes has benefited from a larger role with the Lynx than he would have seen with the Pirates. As one of their top forwards, Hynes has tallied nine goals and 20 points in 25 games so far this season, which places him fifth on the team in scoring. Four of his goals have come with the man advantage and his 57 penalty minutes are second on the team. His play in December is especially noteworthy with four goals (including a hat trick on
Dec. 15) and eight points in the seven games this month to date. If he can continue to improve, Hynes could see some time in the AHL this season, although considering the severity of his injury, it is understandable that the organization does not want to rush him.

Pierre Parenteau, RW
2005-06 games played: 56 regular season, 19 playoffs
Injury: Wrist


When compared to the other members of this list, Parenteau has been relatively lucky. After suffering a broken wrist at the Ducks training camp in the fall of 2005, he was able to come back and be productive for the majority of last year and has been a strong contributor for the Pirates so far this season.


Parenteau explained to Hockey’s Future in December of 2005 that the injury left him out of the game for more then two months. “I was supposed to be in a cast for only three weeks, and I ended up being in a cast for almost seven weeks. So that was a little disappointing there. After that I had to do rehab for two weeks. Here I am nine and a half weeks later,” said Parenteau. To add injury to, well, injury, he also suffered a broken orbital bone while still preparing to return to the lineup. “I got a puck a few days after I came back to practice. A puck in the eye and I broke my orbital bone. My wrist wasn’t ready anyway then,” he explained.


The former QMJHL star played two games in the ECHL for conditioning purposes before returning to the Pirates lineup with a very respectable 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games. He was nothing short of stellar when the playoffs rolled around, with Parenteau notching five goals and 22 points, which tied him for second on the team. Meanwhile his +13 was tops amongst Portland skaters in the postseason. So far, the 2006-07 season has been more of the same, with Parenteau second amongst all Pirates with 12 goals and 24 points in 26 games. His five
power-play markers lead the team, and he’s a +5 with 35 penalty minutes.

Nathan Saunders, D
2005-06 games played: 20 regular season, 9 playoffs
Injury: Shoulder


When Saunders first joined the Pirates last season, he was expected to be another gritty defenseman to add to the likes of
Shane O’Brien, Aaron Rome and Kent Huskins. Saunders did try to provide that element, but was only able to bring it for a quarter of the year. A shoulder injury limited his play and for some of the time when he was playing, the pain was still there. For a player known for dropping his hard-nosed style (most of his roster pictures feature a black eye or two), being unable to properly throw a punch was a huge blow to his effectiveness and ultimately led to surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation. Currently playing with the Ducks ECHL affiliate in Augusta, Saunders is working to regain his game and make it back to the AHL.


Saunders first noticed the problem with his shoulder early in the 2005-06 season. “It came out twice in the same season so they decided to do surgery,” he explained to Hockey’s Future after an ECHL game in November. Unfortunately for him, they were unable to perform arthroscopic surgery because of the location of the tear. Instead, he was left rehabilitating until the second round of the AHL playoffs. “[I] came back and just played forward. This year I’m trying to get back into game shape and get back to where I was before surgery,” said Saunders. He notes that his shoulder is still sore at times as he continues to work his way back to 100 percent. “I don’t have quite as much motion as I had before surgery, but that only matters when I fight so just playing-wise it’s not too bad,” added Saunders who admits that he has dropped the mitts a few times this season but “I’m trying to stay out of them for another month or so.”


Saunders faces a stocked blue line to crack in Portland, but has been able to appear in three games for the Pirates so far this season, with one assist to his name. In Augusta, he’s being used in all situations, even some
power-play time and has established himself as a leader on the team, despite being one of the youngest. In 23 games with the Lynx, Saunders has a goal and five points, as well as 47 penalty minutes, the third most on the team. His -7 is third worst on the team, however the Lynx are -20 overall as an organization and very few members of the squad have a plus/minus rating in the positives. For a character player like Saunders, he needs to be able to give it his all, night in and night out, in order to be effective. However, as he’s beginning to find out, he also needs to make sure that his body can handle the abuse, to allow him to pick up the stick and hit the ice for the next game.

Conclusion


For players like Parenteau, Brent and Glencross, rebounding from these serious injuries is key for their future. All three players will see their current contracts expire at the end of the season and missing large chunks of time at such a crucial part of their development could have significant influence on their careers in hockey. It is hard to pinpoint exactly where these players fit into the organizational depth, but it is safe to say that Brent and Parenteau are near the top of the list to head to California if the situation requires it.


Saunders and Hynes are lucky to some extent, as they still have another year left on their contracts after the conclusion of this season. That being said, they also are the two players who missed the largest portion of their seasons last year. To date, both the Ducks and the Pirates have been fortunate enough to avoid any rash of injuries, allowing both players to focus on their continued recovery in the ECHL.

Holly Gunning and Janine Pilkington
contributed to this article. Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not
reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.