By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Tyler Myers has one regret about undergoing hip surgery in the spring.
“Based on the way it feels now, I wish I would have got it done a couple of years ago,” the Winnipeg Jets defenceman said after the NHL club opened training camp Friday with on-ice testing at the MTS Iceplex.
Gone is the pain and soreness he had “managed” for a few years, especially after practices and games.
“I can walk to my car finally,” Myers said with a smile. “It feels good to come into camp healthy.”
The six-foot-eight, 229-pound veteran actually had two operations.
After 73 games in which he scored nine goals and added 18 assists, he was shut down to have his knee scoped on March 24. The minor procedure was needed to get him ready for hip surgery to fix a problem that mainly affected rotational movements.
A New York surgeon did his hip 10 days after the knee. Recovery is usually 16 to 20 weeks.
Myers said he started feeling better about one to two months into rehab at his Kelowna, B.C. home, where his wife, Michela, was his chauffeur while he was on crutches for six weeks.
“They say it’s fully healed at 12 weeks, and after that you just have to try to work on strength and range of motion.”
He started light skating at 10 weeks.
“I think we’re around 23 weeks now and the last two, three weeks have been the best it’s felt since the injury a couple of years ago,” he said.
Myers, 26, isn’t a stranger to following doctor’s orders. The 2009-10 NHL rookie of the year broke a wrist in November 2011 and broke a leg in April 2013.
The Jets acquired Myers and forward Drew Stafford in February 2015 as part of a trade that sent winger Evander Kane and defenceman Zach Bogosian to the Buffalo Sabres.
Myers, who has a seven-year, US$38.5-million contract that takes him through the 2019-20 season, has given Winnipeg’s blue line a big presence, often pairing up with Toby Enstrom.
Like his teammates, he’s looking forward to seeing how the roster comes together with its influx of youth.
“This whole summer it became really evident, especially with the pick we got in the draft, that there’s going to be a lot of internal competition here at the start of camp,” Myers said, referring to Winnipeg’s second-overall pick of forward Patrik Laine in the NHL entry draft.
“I think that’s a good thing. It pushes guys to bring their best and to work that much harder on the ice.”
Sixty players have been invited to camp: 34 forwards, 20 defencemen and six goalies. Some such as new captain Blake Wheeler will be late after just finishing their participation at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.
Whether than includes restricted free agent defenceman Jacob Trouba remains to be seen. Trouba, who played for Team North America in Toronto, might not show up without a new contract.
“Whenever a situation like this comes up, you’re eager for it to get settled,” Myers said of Trouba. “But you also understand both sides are doing what they have to do.
“Troubs is a great guy in the room. He’s a really good young guy to have around. I’ve really enjoyed playing with him, and the faster we can get him in the room the better it is for everyone.”
Jets head coach Paul Maurice is still an assistant coach for semifinal-bound Team Europe.