For first time, Lightning D Mattias Ohlund talks as if his playing career likely is over
Considering he hasn't even been on skates since November 2011 because of his bad knees, it has been assumed for a while the career of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund likely is over.
But Ohlund on Sunday admitted the surgery on his left knee that was the last best chance for him to revive his career has not produced the results for which he had hoped, and he pretty much (but not quite) acknowledged he will not play again. Even going that far was a first for the big Swede.
"I'm not close to working out or even skating," Ohlund said. "Clearly, it's not going the way I thought or everybody wanted when I had my surgery done. My normal life is better, but I'm not close to where I want to be."
Ohlund in February underwent what was basically a partial knee replacement. Specifically, a thin layer of titanium resurface the bottom of the femur at the joint behind the knee cap called the patellofemoral. Cartilage that should have been there had worn away causing painful bone-on-bone grinding.
As for a comeback, Ohlund, 36, said, "Clearly I have to be realistic. I haven't played for a year and a half. Nobody has told me it's impossible to ever play again but, clearly, the longer it goes the chances of that are getting tougher and tougher. ... Clearly, you have to be realistic that the chances are not great."
It is an unfortunate end for a proud player who rose to prominence in 11 seasons with the Canucks. But after signing a seven-year, $25.25 million, free-agent contract with the Lightning in July 2009, he has not been the same player. Battered knees have been the problem, though Ohlund showed flashes of his old self during the 2011 playoffs, when he was one of the anchors on the penalty kill. And he was always able to hit.
The problem for the Lightning is the $11.75 million Ohlund has left on his contract that runs through 2015-16. Because he is injured, the collective bargaining agreement says he is unavailable for a buyout. It is expected Ohlund and general manager Steve Yzerman will chat at some point this season about Ohlund's future. He got a taste of post-player life last season when he as used as an eye-in-the-sky during games, but he bristled when the coaching staff referred to him as an ad-hoc assistant.