Andrew Copp is determined to be in the lineup when his new team opens the season.
Copp, one of multiple free-agent additions by general manager Steve Yzerman during the offseason, has recovered enough from core surgery that he has begun practicing in a non-contact jersey. But with the Detroit Red Wings‘ Oct. 14 opener two weeks away, Copp is hopeful he can be cleared by then.
“I feel like we’ve been a little ahead of schedule the whole time,” Copp said Friday. “But it is one of those injuries where you can set it back for three or four days, so I’m trying to ride that line of doing enough to strengthen it but not go over the line.”
Copp is earmarked to center the second line. Being able to get in looks, even in practice, is helpful.
“Especially on a new team, with completely new linemates and new systems,” Copp said. “Figuring out where guys are going to be a little bit, even where they hold their stick, passing lanes – all that stuff. I feel like that will be really important.
“I feel pretty strongly I’ll be ready, but we’ll see. You’d rather be healthy for 78 games than come back too early and then miss three weeks.”
Copp underwent abdominal surgery in mid-to-late August. The injury dates to last season before the playoffs, when he was with the New York Rangers.
“I was told it would go away with rest and treatment, but then I re-injured it in early August,” Copp said.
Coach Derek Lalonde said the Wings are “being cautious,” with Copp.
“He’s just driven, he wants to be out there now, he wants to go hard,” Lalonde said. “I joked about maybe defining what a practice, non-hit jersey looks like, but that’s just how he’s wired. Good sign.”
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her latest book, On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.