TAMPA — Vinny Lecavalier said he slept five straight hours one night this week on his living room recliner, an ice pack melting on his surgically repaired right shoulder.
Not exactly what good night sleeps are made of. But compared with the fitful, painful lie-downs the Lightning center has endured since an April 15 arthroscopic procedure to repair a torn glinoid labrum, it was like heaven.
"I've had other surgeries," Lecavalier said, "but this one has been pretty tough with the pain and not being able to sleep."
And that it could take longer than expected to fully heal.
Lecavalier said his understanding is it could be five or six months until he is 100 percent, as the team said he will be.
Tampa Bay's estimate was for a 12- to 15-week "recovery process." But Lecavalier said that is when he can work out without restrictions. He said it could be five to six months until he is cleared for full contact.
"And that puts us into September," he said.
And that starts bumping into training camp.
The Lightning declined to better define the timetable.
"We remain confident that Vinny will be ready to join us at the beginning of the 2008-09 season," general manager Jay Feaster said in a statement.
"We are not going to discuss specific weeks or months or other benchmarks or milestones of the rehabilitation or when he may begin participating in certain activities."
For now, Lecavalier, 28, who last season became the first Tampa Bay player to twice score 40 goals, measures progress in baby steps.
He said he was able for the first time Thursday to drive himself to the St. Pete Times Forum for a multihour rehab session with assistant trainer Jason Serbus.
He said he finally can raise his arm 90 degrees forward and sideways, though reaching back is difficult. He uses a golf club to help raise the arm, holding the shaft in his left hand and pushing the head of the club into his right.
"It feels terrible right now," Lecavalier said. "But with Serbs here helping me out and telling me it's going to get back to 100 percent, I'm excited about that."
As for arthroscopic surgery on his painful right wrist scheduled for April 4 but postponed when his shoulder was hurt on a hit by the Capitals' Matt Cooke the day before, Lecavalier said it can wait.
"I played all year with it, and it didn't get worse," he said. "Going through all this with the shoulder, I just want to get this right."
No matter how long it takes.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com.