ALBANY -- Practice was unusually late Thursday afternoon at Pepsi Arena for the Albany River Rats, but the appearance of an old friend made it well worth the wait for coach Robbie Ftorek.
First-round draft choice defenseman David Hale was back on the ice for the first time since Nov. 13 when the recurrence of a kidney ailment that had sidelined him in college appeared to finish his second pro season. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder, who was supposed to bolster Albany's suspect defense in the wake of the NHL lockout, has missed 47 consecutive AHL games.
"It's nice to see him back healthy," Ftorek said. "That's the important thing. As far as his hockey is going to be concerned, I know his timing will be off a little bit -- and his thought process -- until he gets playing some games and getting some practices. But you know what? That's OK. We all make mistakes."
Hale said he had spent the last month in New Jersey getting back in shape after returning to his home in Colorado Springs.
HUGE news. Thank God! It sounds like Hale has been recovered enough to resume skating and getting back in shape for the past month. This bout of the disease was his longest that I can remember and had him completely indisposed for three months. According to this pattern, he should be healthy and out of danger until the winter of the 2006-2007 season (which should be the return season of the NHL by the looks of things).
Hindsight is always 20/20, and knowing what we now know about the disease (which is very little other than the fact there is no known cure, and it can strike whenever), drafting Hale in the First Round may have been a mistake. That being said, I am one fan who is elated to have him in the system and fully believe he can be a strong 2nd pairing defenseman in the mold of Collin White (hopefully without the lack of discipline). Great to have him back for the rest of the year.