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Martin at least one week away from return

Wednesday, 03.10.2010 / 12:53 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Martin at least one week away from return
Martin's injury continues to improve.
Paul Martin took part in Wednesday’s optional morning skate and said he’s still at least a week away from practicing with the team. Seven other Devils skated as the club was set to host the Rangers at 7 p.m.

“Today was the first day of actually doing some battle drills and being with the guys,” said Martin, who until Wednesday had been skating on his own. “It felt good to be in there doing that; I need to start doing that. It feels like I haven’t done that in five months, which is the case. But it was good. It’s starting to feel better. It’s still weak, it needs to get stronger, but I see progress. It’s not one of those things where each day it gets a lot better. It has some good days and some bad days, but over all, it’s ultimately getting better.”

Martin has been out since Oct. 24 with a non-displaced left forearm fracture and had minor surgery on the arm in late December. The injury occurred nine games into a regular season that now has just 18 remaining.

Martin says the grip strength in his left arm is about 75 percent of his right arm, and that he’ll need to get it to 80-85 percent before returning to the lineup.

“I’m still not taking any slapshots or anything where I’m leaning my whole body into it,” he said. “I still have to get some motion back in the wrist, then the strength will come after that. Hopefully, I’ll be able to take some heavy shots or really lean into them, but right now, I don’t have full power on my shots.”

As he’s gotten healthier, Martin has periodically checked the schedule to target a comeback date. But as those dates have passed, they’ve seemed, in retrospect, like wishful thinking.

“The sad part is, I was doing it two months ago because you always try to set a goal,” he said. “Unfortunately, it keeps getting pushed back. At the time, they’re realistic but then, as it gets closer, you realize it’s not ready yet. Right now, if I had to say how long, I’d say, for sure, another week from this weekend.”

Martin hopes for a clean bill of health shortly after he’s ready to take slapshots.

“If it’s strong enough to be taking the full shots and I don’t have any issues with it, I think I’ll be able to play right away, I would hope,” he said. “I imagine a couple of practices, but that’ll be up to the coaches and trainers. Right now, I’m just trying to get everything else ready so that this is the only thing that’s limiting me.”

If there’s one upside in all this, it’s that as a left-handed shooter, Martin relies more on his right hand for pokechecking and stickhandling. He said it’s an advantage to have his healthy arm/hand at the top of the stick while his left is positioned at the bottom.

“It’s tough because you need the bottom hand a lot for shooting, but I never could shoot that hard anyway,” Martin joked. “I’ll just have to get it back to as good as I can until I can start playing.”