Out since November 2nd with a severed tendon in his left ankle, David Bolland was at practice on Wednesday, though he was skating as an extra and not featured on any of the four forward lines.
While he is making progress, Bolland admitted things are not moving as quickly as he would like.
"Things are going, things are progressing," said Bolland. "Not as quickly as I wish they were, but things are progressing."
Coach Randy Carlyle suggested last Thursday that there was a 50-50 chance Bolland could return prior to the Olympic break, but with just two games remaining for the Leafs before the two week hiatus, nothing is set in stone.
"We'll see," Bolland said when asked if a return before the break was a possibility. "Things are progressing, so we'll see how they go."
At this point, Bolland's biggest limitations occur in transition when he is required to change directions abruptly.
"It's crossing over, getting on that ankle, putting weight on it and stressing that tendon," Bolland explained. "That's the biggest thing, the transition in the game when you're going down on a three on two and the puck gets poked off your stick and you have to go back the other way, that quick transition of turning on a dime and getting back. It's that tendon that you have to use to turn and progress off that. It's getting stronger, it's getting there but it's just not elevating like I want it to."
Now over three full months since the injury occurred, Bolland is still resigned to the fact that he will experience pain in the ankle, likely for several more months to come.
"You feel pain, you feel stress, and I did cut a tendon so it went right through the muscle, right through the tendon, right through everything, almost down to the bone," he said. "I'm going to feel pain; it's going to be like that for the rest of this year and maybe some of the summer."
Whether he returns or not in the next two games, Bolland will not be taking the Olympic break off. Instead, he intends to return to London to skate with the Knights, his former junior club and continue wearing the new skate boot that he had custom designed to support his injury.
"I'll have to use that new skate for a while, probably for the rest of my career," said Bolland. "I've got a big bulge on the side of my ankle that sticks out, bigger than my other ankle so it's going to be with me for the rest of my life. I'll probably use that skate until I'm done."
An unrestricted free agent this summer, the injury has prevented Bolland from raising his stock with a solid year, playing in just 15 games to this point. More concerned with getting back into the line up than worrying about a new contract, he indicated that his past resume should speak for itself.
"I don't know if I'm missing anything, I think in the past few years I've won two Stanley Cups," said Bolland. "I've been to the finals and know what it's like to get there; I've been through those battles so I don't think this should hinder any kind of contract. I think they know what I do and what kind of heart I have out there."