Werenski learning less is more returning from injury for Blue Jackets

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Werenski learning less is more returning from injury for Blue Jackets


WASHINGTON Zach Werenski knew it would take some time to get back to his best game after having season ending shoulder surgery last season. The Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman didn't expect that getting injured again would help him find it.Werenski, who has six points one goal, five assists in 10 games and leads the Blue Jackets averaging 23:34 in ice time ahead of their home game against the Dallas Stars at Nationwide Arena on Thursday 7:30 p.m. ET; Hulu, ESPN+ , now views the quad contusion he sustained in Columbus' season opener on Oct. 12 as https://www.flyersprostore.com/murray-craven-jersey, 'a blessing in disguise for me personally.'At the time, the injury, which occurred in a leg on leg collision with Philadelphia Flyers forward Garnet Hathaway, seemed like another stroke of bad luck for Werenski. The 26 year old missed the final 69 games last season because of torn labrum and separated shoulder sustained in another game against the Flyers on Nov. 10, 2022.But in retrospect, the two games he missed this time oddly provided him with an opportunity.'I, obviously, don't want to ever get hurt, ' Werenski said last week. 'I thought the first game of the season I didn't really play well and then after getting hurt, watching the next two games from up top maybe was kind of like a reset. I kind of just calmed down a little bit and just focused on myself and focused on my game.'One of the things Werenski realized watching from the press box was that he needed to walk before he could run again.'Obviously, you want to jump right back in and be the player you were before the injury, but I'm just trying to take it slow right now, ' he said. 'I don't want to do too much. I'm trying to play with confidence and just play a simple game. I think before I was up in the play and kind of all over the ice where now I'm playing within myself. I'm not doing too much. I'm playing within the structure, using my teammates, trying to be good defensively.'It's kind of more of a simple game, but actually I've enjoyed it. I think it's actually helped my game a lot, so some things happen for a reason, and I like where I'm at right now.'So does Blue Jackets coach Pascal Vincent. Werenski's return has been pivotal to Columbus' retooled defense, which added Ivan Provorov acquired in trade with Flyers and Damon Severson acquired in trade with New Jersey Devils after signing eight year, $50 million contract and includes 19 year old rookie David Jiricek.'He's so talented, and those talented players sometimes they see a play that other players don't see, ' Vincent said. 'So, instead of using option A, they're looking for B and C https://www.flyersprostore.com/jakub-voracek-jersey, and sometimes that B and C is not necessarily there, especially when you're coming back after a long injury like Zach. So, I think that's what he's doing right now. He's pushing himself hard in practices. He's skating in games. He's making simple plays and then he's able to join the play offensively.'So, I think he's on the right track, for sure.'In his eighth NHL season, Werenski is one of the Blue Jackets' leaders as an alternate captain. He watched helplessly for most of last season when Columbus lost a franchise record 563 man games to injuries and was 25 48 9, last in the Metropolitan Division with 59 points.That turned out be an educational experience, too.'I've had injuries before where I've missed a few games or week or two or I had surgery, but it was in the summer, so I didn't miss that much time, ' Werenski said. 'But that was the first time I've gone through a season ending, 70 game injury, so I didn't really know how to prepare for it. I didn't really know what to expect. I think it was definitely tougher with how the team was playing. You can't be there. You can't help. You're around, but you're not really in it with the guys. So, definitely a different year.'But I think I learned a lot from a leadership role on how to help in other ways and how to talk to teammates and tried to offer my advice in certain ways. Even from just watching games from above, I think I learned a lot as a player.'This season, the Blue Jackets 4 5 3 are a work in progress under Vincent, who was promoted from associate coach after Mike Babcock resigned Sept. 17. They were 3 2 0 in their first five games but are 1 3 3 since then. Losing forward Patrik Laine to an upper body injury Oct 20 didn't help.Still, Werenski can see a foundation for future success being established for the Blue Jackets, who remain one of the NHL's youngest teams with an average age of 26. Of course, the objective is to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2020, but Werenski and the Blue Jackets are focused more, for now, on the smaller steps in the process.'I think this year it's just kind of creating that culture, creating that standard , accountability, and getting it back to where it should be, ' he said. 'From day one of camp, day one of the season, through 10 games in, we're just trying to create something that we can be proud of here and every time we go on the ice it's just having that standard of how we're going to play win or lose.'If you're a Blue Jacket, you want to play this way, you want to play hard and wins and losses will follow based on how you work.'

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