Johnny Boychuk, who suffered a gruesome-looking eye injury just days before the NHL season was paused in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, told Newsday on Wednesday that he's fully recovered and will be ready to play if the season resumes.
The Islanders defenseman needed 90 stitches to repair a cut above his eyelid, which he suffered when he was hit by the skate of the Montreal Canadiens' Artturi Lehkonen on March 3. He didn't suffer any damage to the eye itself.
"My eye seems to be almost like 100 percent," Boychuk told Newsday. "There's going to be a little bit of discomfort, but not much. Nothing to have me worried about being on the ice again."
Boychuk said he plans to return to the ice Thursday in his native Edmonton -- the first time he will skate in three months.
The NHL moved into Phase 2 of its "return to play" protocol this week, with teams given the green light to open training facilities for players with coronavirus restrictions in place. A maximum of six players can train at once at the facilities.
Phase 2 marked a major step toward the opening of NHL training camps in July, ahead of what the league hopes is a return to finish the season in two hub cities in a postseason format that would include the top 24 teams. The Islanders, ninth in the Eastern Conference at 35-33-10, would be included, and Boychuk said he hopes to be in the mix.
"All I can do is prepare like we're going to play and, if it does happen, I'm going to be ready," Boychuk told Newsday. "If we don't play, I already have a leg up for next season."