SEKERA HEALTHY, READY TO PLAY
Friday, 03.16.2012 / 2:14 PM ET
He practiced for the first time this morning after missing the Buffalo Sabres’ last five games. Sekera could be back in the lineup for tomorrow night’s game against the Florida Panthers.
“I really didn’t know what it was, but then I figured it out,” the Sabres 25-year-old defenseman from Slovakia said. “I translated it in my cell phone in the Slovakian language and I understood what it is exactly.”
Sekera has been out since the team’s game against Carolina on March 7. He tried going out for warm-ups that night, but ended up being a late scratch.
“Before the game I didn’t feel very well. I felt good all day and then I started going out for warm-up, I started feeling sick. It came out of nowhere. My stomach hurt,” he told the media after practice. “It just hit me. Fever, headaches, I thought it was just a bug.”
Sekera was battling a high fever and after having trouble breathing when walking the stairs in his house, he visited with his doctors. After some x-rays of his chest, they discovered he had pneumonia.
He said that he had been previously hospitalized with pneumonia for about a week when he was a teenager living in Slovakia. As he started feeling better this time around, he began to exercise again and worked to regain the nearly 10 pounds he lost.
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Sekera is anxious to get back onto the ice and believes that he can play tomorrow, even if it’s not for the 19:20 he’s been averaging this season.
“I will do my best and see how I do from period to period,” Sekera said. “I don’t promise anything. I just want to out, skate well and play a hard game to help this team win some hockey games.”
Head coach Lindy Ruff wouldn’t rule Sekera out.
“He did a lot better. He got through his first full practice so hopefully he could be a possibility for tomorrow,” Ruff said.
Coupled with Tyler Myers missing last game and the next two due to a suspension, Sekera’s illness has opened the door for defensemen Alexander Sulzer and Brayden McNabb to play bigger minutes for the club. When Sekera and Myers return, Ruff and his staff will have to make some tough decisions in terms of who gets into the lineup.
“We’ll have to play the guys who are playing the best,” Ruff explained. “If Sulzer is playing better than somebody, he’ll play. He’s put in a pretty solid stint with us so far and I think him and Christian [Ehrhoff] have played well together, so it’s a decision we’ll have to make.
“Hopefully we have to make a decision like that. That just means we’re healthy.”
Lines from today’s practice:
Thomas Vanek – Cody Hodgson – Ville Leino
Corey Tropp – Derek Roy – Jason Pominville
Marcus Foligno – Tyler Ennis – Drew Stafford
Cody McCormick – Brad Boyes – Patrick Kaleta
Sekera, Ehrhoff, Leopold, McNabb, Myers, Sulzer, Robyn Regehr and Mike Weber all practiced as well.
Nathan Gerbe (upper body injury) did not participate but he skated on his own before practice. Ruff said that he’s “day-to-day” and will travel with the team to Florida.
During practice, Ruff sported a warm-up jacket with stop sign and “Do Not Enter” patches stitched to the back and a yield sign plastered to the front. The jacket was in response to an incident during practice last month when defenseman Jordan Leopold inadvertently knocked Ruff down during a drill, causing the coach to break three of his ribs.
Ruff said the jacket was a gag gift from local professional golfer Dudley Hart and that he only planned on wearing it once. He changed by the time he spoke with the media.
“That was just my on-ice [jacket]. Just a little bit of extra protection,” Ruff joked. “Guys notice the stop sign and the yield so they don’t run me over.”