Boston Bruins prospect Jeff LoVecchio missed all of last season because of a serious concussion.
But during last week’s Bruins development camp in Wilmington, you’d have been hard-pressed to find any proof that he was still in the process of returning from injury. On the the ice, LoVecchio flaunted the work ethic and straight-line approach that originally caused the Bruins to sign him as a free agent out of Western Michigan after the 2007-08 college season. Off the ice, LoVecchio emanated with positivity and an attitude that spoke volumes about how the 23-year-old has moved on after a freak fall at home in St. Louis forced him to the sidelines.
“It was the worst year of my life, but I guess what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” LoVecchio said last week. “I guess I’m a lot stronger because of that year. I can’t look at it as a negative, I’ve got to look at it as a positive. I feel like I’m that much more hungry and excited to play hockey. So I’m just so happy to be on the ice again. For a while there it seemed like I never would get back out there. And it’s just amazing to be out there with all the boys. There’s nothing like playing hockey, so I’m glad to be out there.”
LoVecchio, who skated in 14 regular season and six playoff games for Providence (AHL) at the end of the ’08 campaign, went eight months without activity until he was cleared to work out at full speed at the end of the P-Bruins’ season. Looking ahead, he should fit in nicely as a top-nine forward for Providence this coming season.
Two other Bruins prospects weren’t as fortunate as far as on-ice activity during development camp. But both defenseman Tommy Cross and forward Yannick Riendeau are on the road to recovery. Cross underwent knee surgery and started skating on his own for the first time during camp. He’s targeting mid-September for a return to full speed and then he’ll be ready for Boston College’s practices come October, as he enters his junior season. Cross has battled injury throughout the last few seasons, but like LoVecchio has kept his head high.
“The stuff I’ve learned through being injured, and how to approach things and how to be patient, it makes you know what you have to do,” Cross said after one development camp session last week. “It’s definitely made me a better player. And you get to watch a lot of hockey and get to go back to the basics as far as just skating.”
Riendeau battled through a shoulder injury with Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season, all the way through his team’s Memorial Cup appearance. He underwent surgery two weeks before development camp and was limited to riding the bike and rehabilitation exercises while in Wilmington. He was often spotted along the outside of the boards longingly watching the on-ice action during the camp. He’s hoping to step up his activity next month and is targeting November for playing his first game at the pro level.