RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The smile on Brett Pesce’s face at practice is a stark contrast to how he felt in late February when a shoulder injury knocked the elite defender out for the remainder of the season.
“It’s not a good feeling,” said Pesce of not being able to participate in last year’s playoffs. “You want to be out there battling with your teammates.”
The Carolina Hurricanes defenseman said missing the playoffs took a toll on him.
“Missing the playoffs kind of took a toll on me even more so I would say because you have the opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup which is why everyone plays the game.”
No one was shocked when Pesce went down with the injury. He had hurt the same right shoulder a few years ago but decided to rehab and play on instead of opting for surgery.
The timing of the second injury, though, couldn’t have been worse.
The Canes were able to overcome it and make the postseason, but Pesce’s absence was really felt during the playoffs.
“I can’t say enough about it,” said Canes head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “If you don’t have it, you really notice it.”
He’s kind of one of those guys when you have him in you don’t notice it. He’s kind of one of those guys when you have him in maybe you take for granted a little bit because he does such a good job of what he does.”
Now 100 percent healthy, Pesce is once again ready to anchor the Canes second-line defense, a reason to smile if there ever was one.