Local hockey star hopes to bounce back from injury
After playing his first full year with the Tampa Bay Lightning last year, Airdrie hockey star Dana Tyrell was hoping for a repeat performance this past season.
However, his second chance with the team was cut short after only 27 games when he tore the ACL in his right knee, Jan. 15.
It’s an injury Tyrell is familiar with. He suffered the same injury in an exhibition game just prior to the 2009 World Junior Championships, which kept him out for the rest of the season.
Just like in 2009, Tyrell underwent surgery to repair the tear and faced a lengthy recovery.
“It was very disappointing,” he said.
“It was the same knee and same injury, so I knew the process and rehab length. It’s a six-month recovery and I’m coming up on the six-month mark, so I’m feeling good and ready to get the season going.”
Tyrell played 78 games with the Lightning during the 2010-2011 season, which saw the team lose to the Boston Bruins in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference finals.
Tyrell drew into the line-up for seven playoff games, but was among the last players cut during training camp in September.
He began the season with the Norfolk Admirals, the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, scoring four goals and five assists in 18 games. He was called up by the big club in November and recorded five assists in the 27 games he played.
November was good to him, as only five days after he was recalled, the Lightning re-signed him to a two-year, one-way $600,000 contract extension. It kept him from reaching free agency and provided a boost for the rest of his 27-game stint.
“It was a huge confidence boost,” he said. “I was coming off my entry-level contract and it gives me a little bit of security given that it’s a one-way deal. It shows that Tampa has plans for me.”
What wasn’t in Tampa’s plan was missing the playoffs after being one win away from the Stanley Cups Finals in June 2011. The team’s 2011-2012 season ended in March after it finished 12th in the Eastern Conference, eight points out of the final playoff spot.
Tyrell called the season “great,” but Tampa Bay will be in a tough situation again this season thanks to a couple of high profile moves by their southeast division rivals. The Carolina Hurricanes made two of the biggest off-season transactions by acquiring Jordan Staal from the Pittsburgh Penguins and signing free agent Alexander Semin, who spent the last six seasons with the Washington Capitals.
Neither player is a stranger to Tyrell and the Lightning, but the transactions have the potential to make Carolina an eastern force again.
“It’s definitely going to add to their offensive powerhouse,” Tyrell said. “We’re going to have to key in on those players just like we have been.”
With his recovery on track, Tyrell has begun preparing for training camp, which will take place in September, unless NHL owners and the NHL Player’s Association aren’t able to finalize a new collective-bargaining agreement. Like many players, Tyrell is paying attention to the negotiations, but training as if the season will start on schedule.
“You can’t think about it,” he said.
“You have to train as if there’s going to be a season. I need to develop and train as much as I can (to make the roster) and I’m confident I’ll be able to do that.”