Steve Gorten sgorten
Defenseman Ryan Murray was activated from injured reserve Saturday and loaned to the Blue Jackets’ minor-league affiliate in Cleveland for a conditioning assignment.
It is perhaps the final step in returning from an upper body injury that has caused him to miss 34 games. Murray is slated to play for the Monsters on Sunday against Chicago.
Meanwhile, Murray’s former defensive partner, Markus Nutivaara, is “banged up” and possibly won’t play Sunday at Nationwide against the Pittsburgh Penguins, coach John Tortorella said.
Nutivaara didn’t practice Saturday after leaving the bench before an overtime loss Friday to the Philadelphia Flyers. Murray, who last played Nov. 27 at Montreal, said Saturday he feels “pretty good” and has his endurance back.
“It’s the best part of the season, when you want to be out there playing,” Murray said. “But my first priority is making sure I’m healthy. I want to be at a point where I can compete out there and make a difference.”
Murray missed 22 games last season because of a broken hand and 68 because of knee and ankle injuries during the 2014-15 season.
“I had a minor knee surgery that took way too long, some broken bones here and there. I haven’t really had (any) major, major things. It’s just kinds of things that have lingered,” Murray said. “And that’s what frustrates me the most, probably, is just trying to push through it. There’s a time when you’ve just got to step back and go, ‘Enough’s enough. Take your time and heal.’”
That was John Davidson’s message to Murray after a setback last month made him stop practicing. Davidson, the Jackets’ president of hockey operations, “came down and told me, ‘I don’t care how long it takes. I’m not going to screw you over. You take all the time you need, and you get healthy again,’” Murray said.
Davidson, a former NHL player who regards himself “a walking piece of arthritis” after four knee replacements and two back surgeries, said it is important players don’t rush back prematurely.
“With certain injuries, and I’ve had most of them, you know how people feel and how hard it is,” Davidson said, adding his “gut feeling” is Murray will excel when he returns. “When he comes back, and he’s close … if he’s ready, mentally and physically, he’s a terrific hockey player. So he can help us.”
The former top line of Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Anderson was back together at practice. Tortorella previously said he split them because the combination had become “stale.” … Tortorella said perhaps the Jackets’ lack of energy and execution in the first two periods Friday against the Flyers was because “they just didn’t have much in the tank” for their third game in four nights.