SEATTLE (AP) — André Burakovsky wanted a normal summer break filled with some enjoyable downtime sandwiched around getting ready for the upcoming NHL campaign.
The way last season went for the Seattle Kraken forward didn’t allow him the chance at that relaxed summer. There was too much rehab work needed after suffering a torn groin muscle to be ready in time for this year.
“We were putting in a lot of work every day for the entire summer,” Burakovsky said on Thursday as the Kraken opened their third training camp. “I didn’t travel anywhere. My girlfriend was kind of disappointed in me that I didn’t want to travel with her anywhere, but I felt like it was more important to do your work to come back and be 100% when the camp starts. So it wasn’t the most fun summer for sure but it was work that needed to be done.”
Seeing Burakovsky back on the ice at full speed was a welcomed sight for Seattle at the start of camp. Burakovksy was the big free agent signing for the Kraken between Year 1 and 2 and was the team’s leading scorer when he was injured on his first shift following the All-Star break in February.
Then came the setbacks -– two or three of them after the initial diagnosis after the injury had Burakovsky out for about a month. It eventually led to Burakovsky having surgery in April and stuck as a spectator during Seattle’s run to the Western Conference semifinals in its first playoff appearance.
“It was really hard because I was really, really motivated last year to come back when I saw the guys playing on the ice and I just wanted to be around the guys and that motivated me to work harder and try to come back,” Burakovsky said. “I was close a couple of times to be able to come back and then when you get that setback, I mean it’s kind of like starting over at zero again.”
Burakovksy had 39 points in 49 games in Seattle and was on pace for a career-best season when the injury happened. And Seattle’s offense experienced some swoons without Burakovsky as part of its top six forwards.
It was the first time in his career dealing with a muscle injury where there were setbacks along the way.
“A bunch of broken bones, but those are those are easy. That’s just six weeks and then you are fully back,” he said.
Burakovsky signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract with Seattle before the start of last season and played on one of the top two lines for the Kraken until his injury. Having him healthy will be a boost for a team facing real expectations after the success of last season.
When training camp started a year ago, the Kraken were seeking normalcy after a difficult inaugural season where the team underperformed. Seattle admittedly caught teams by surprise early in the season and hovered near the top of the Pacific Division into February and March.
Now, no one will be surprised by Seattle and because of that training camp started with a serious tone.
“One of the things we talked about is let’s make sure that competitiveness gets back to where it needs to be right away,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “It might not look all that clean. It might not look pretty at times, but we want to put a couple of days of camp together where there are scrimmages involved in order to help that process.”
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