Kings defenseman Matt Greene sends Stars left wing Ray Whitney reeling… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
The soundtrack of huffing and puffing filled the short hallway to the Kings dressing room Friday morning at the practice facility in El Segundo.
No, this wasn't about working off extra helpings of Thanksgiving dinner. This was about two injured players trying to get back in condition as quickly as possible and feeling the pain after a tough session.
Pass the oxygen tank, not the pie.
You had to feel for winger Matt Frattin and stay-at-home defenseman Matt Greene when they were put through a punishing skate lasting about 45 minutes after teammates finished their regularly scheduled practice.
Greene, who has been out because of an undisclosed upper-body injury, was his usual blunt self in terms of his progress. He has not played since Nov. 2 and finally progressed enough to skate on consecutive days.
"It's just a matter of getting into shape," Greene said. "I think after today's skate it's completely apparent that I'm not in shape."
Frattin (lower-body injury) appears closer to returning because he assessed his status as day to day. He was injured against the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 21.
"It makes you want to play that much more," said Frattin, who skated the last three days. "It was a good skate. It's what we need to get back in shape. Me and Greener are trying to get back as quick as we can. Injuries are something that takes time."
The timing of Frattin's setback was particularly unfortunate. He seemed to have turned the corner and was playing his best hockey with the Kings at the time of the injury.
"Just getting confidence back and using my speed in games," Frattin said. "That's what has given me opportunities. You've got to know you're a good player and you've just got to play, help the team out every chance you get."
The Kings struggled without Greene's leadership at times last season when he sat out all but five games because of back surgery. For him, the watching and waiting has not gotten any easier.
"You never want to miss games," Greene said. "It's bad whenever you're not playing or watching your team play. The worst thing in sports is to be hurt and to watch your team play, It's definitely motivation to get back in the lineup."
Sutter on concussions
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter had some blunt opinions on the concussion lawsuit recently filed by former players against the NHL. Sutter, who appeared in 406 regular-season games with the Chicago Blackhawks, said he never felt he was misled in his playing days.
"I'm sure we were given every bit of information that was available at that time, clearly," Sutter said. "Trainers, doctors, owners, coaches, everything.
"If you think about it, our sport is the only sport that protected the head more than anybody. ... We've done everything we can to change the rules, done everything possible. We can guarantee contracts. We don't tear 'em up because of an injury. Everything that is possible, I think, our sport has done to help players. And being a former player, that's how I feel strongly.
"Guaranteed my brothers and I had them [concussions]. … Not because you're going after the head or that it was legal to go after the head. It was the game and it is the game."
On the air: TV: FS West. Radio: 1150.
Etc.: A promising season for the Flames has been derailed by injuries, especially with the losses of Mark Giordano and power-play specialist Dennis Wideman, which have left them thin and young on the blue line.