After missing the past nine games because of a staph infection in a toe on his right foot, Boyd Gordon was cleared to skate hard, take part in practice with his teammates and endure a lengthy bag-skate with the scratches on Saturday morning.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said he expects the veteran center to be able to return to the lineup within a week and Gordon agreed, saying that after a few more tough practices he should be back in game shape.
Gordon said the infection took hold when a callus on his toe, the result of repeatedly blocking shots, cracked open. It started to bother him slightly back on Dec. 11 in a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche and by the end of the Capitals' 7-0 loss to the Rangers on Dec. 12 the pain was significant, causing Gordon to limp through much of the contest. He had surgery the following day to have the infected tissue removed.
"They cut my whole toe open and cleaned it out," Gordon said. "It [affects balance] at first, but right now it's pretty good. I'm not too worried about it's just a matter of getting back in game shape. Staph can take your whole body down, but for me, luckily it didn't. I've known guys that have been out for whole seasons [with staph infections], so it could be even worse than this. The time I lost is a lot better than what it could have been."
Worried about reopening the wound after surgery and the chance of the infection starting up again, Gordon wore a walking boot on his right foot for the bulk of his time off to make sure nothing would irritate his toe. He's only been wearing regular shoes for about a week, and his workout on the ice Friday was the first time he skated since the game against the Rangers but Gordon doesn't anticipate any problems going forward.
"It feels fine in a skate, so I don't think there will be any hiccups," Gordon said, adding that he's glad to be able to skate again. "I couldn't skate at all. I had to make sure that the cut sealed so I didn't get it infected again; I had to be pretty careful there for awhile. I couldn't really do anything with it. I could work out a little bit, but nothing cardio-wise. You get out there with the guys and you're trying to keep up with everyone and that's the best way to get back into it."