Backup goaltender Kevin Weekes said today that he will be ready physically for the first practice of training camp for the Devils' veterans on Saturday and, "barring a setback" he would also be ready to be play in the first preseason game in Philadelphia on Monday. Weekes had a torn biceps tendon in his left arm (near the elbow) surgically repaired this summer.
"I've got to check back in with Dr. (Ross) Fox, the surgeon, but he gave me the green light to resume practice and all of that stuff," Weekes said. "I just have to pay attention to it like anyone when you have something done. You have to pay attention to the feedback it gives you. It's a somewhat serious surgery. It's not just a routine injury. So, from that sense, you never know how your healing is going to go, but fortunately everything has been ahead of schedule at every interval, so, hopefully, I won't suffer any setbacks, knock on wood, in the next little while, and everything will be good to go."
Weekes said the tendon was 80 to 90 percent torn.
"It was something that basically was wear and tear over time," Weekes said. "It was something that had good days and bad days and with effective management I was able to get through the season. Then, at the end of the season, we did the MRI and ended up finding out what it was.
"Right now, it looks like we made the right decision and we're happy about that."
Devils coach Brent Sutter plans to play each of his veteran goaltenders -- Weekes Martin Brodeur and Scott Clemmensen -- for half a game at the first three preseason games and eventually work toward playing Brodeur and Weekes in full games. He said he had no reservations about playing Weekes -- if he chooses to do so -- on Monday.
"He says he's fine," Sutter said. "We'll obviously monitor him very closely, but the three veterans (Brodeur, Weekes and Clemmensen) will all get a chance to play part of a game in the first three games."
Clemmensen, who is taking part in the team's minor league camp this week, said his decision to sign with the Devils had nothing to do with Weekes' surgery.
"I was not aware of his injury at the time and it would not have made a difference," he said. "I did not get the impression I was brought in as an insurance policy."
Although the Devils have only two full training camp practices before their first preseason game, Sutter isn't worried that isn't enough time to prepare.
"It's going to have to be," Sutter said. "It's only two days, but these guys are in such phenomenal shape now. I've been watching them skate and they're in great shape."
Sutter also plans to mix in a good amount of younger players in the preseason games. Teams are required to dress only eight veterans in preseason games.
Sutter plans to watch the minor league training camp practices from the stands and won't take the ice until Saturday's NHL practice. He's keeping a close eye on players who would potentially have a shot to make the NHL club.
"You just look for them to do things right and be real good competitors and have a real competitive camp," he said. "There's got to be something that stands out as individuals."
Of rookie defenseman Matt Corrente, Sutter said, "He certainly has an edge to his game that you really like as a coach. At the same time, there's a fine line of making sure that edge stays within discipline too. From my understanding, he had a pretty good camp two years ago at the age of 18 and last year he had another good camp. Hopefully, he has another good camp this year too and we'll monitor him as he goes through it. Yet, he's certainly one of the young kids who will be pushing the vets and you need that from your kids. You want your kids to push those guys...Corrente has been someone who has stood out in past camps and he stood out in the prospects camp here in July and there's not to think he's going to have a good camp. But, he's still a young kid. You've got to go through a process with those guys. Yet, he's certainly handled a lot of situations very well."
Sutter said he spent a lot of time on the ice during camp with the Red Deer Rebels -- the major junior team he owns in Alberta.