By JAMES COOK firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Kyle Jean was hoping to bounce up on the New York Rangers’ radar.
Instead, he’ll have to rebound from an injury first.
The former Traverse City North Stars standout will miss the rest of the NHL Prospect Tournament at Centre ICE after separating his left shoulder in the second period of the team’s opening game Thursday.
“I’ve had injuries my whole life,” Jean said. “But this is the first one that really stings. It’s kind of bad timing. I’ve had some serious injuries, but this one definitely hurts.”
Jean said he’ll miss at least two weeks, maybe three.
That puts participation in the Rangers’ full training camp in danger, but he should be able to be back in uniform by the time the Connecticut Whale — the Rangers’ American Hockey League affiliate for which Jean scored nine goals last year — get their camp going.
“If I can get into that part of camp, that’d be great,” Jean said. “But we’ll see how it goes. There’s a chance I can do it. It’s not a terrible separation, but it’s not a good one either. ... It could be worse. There’s positives in this whole thing.”
Jean racked up 75 points in 118 games in a North Stars uniform.
“I was looking forward to playing in this tournament,” said Jean, who played in Traverse City from 2007-10. “There’s a lot of people I know. This was my home for a little bit. I played here a couple years and really got to know a lot of people.”
Last season, he had nine goals and 14 assists in 73 games with the Whale in his first AHL season.
“It was great,” Jean said of his AHL plunge. “There’s some ups and some downs, for sure. A lot of learning going on down there. But overall, it was fun. ... I can use that experience from last year going into next year. That’s the biggest thing — you’re always improving and looking to get better and use that year and move forward.”
The 6-foot-4, 203-pound Jean had already displayed excellent skating, stick-handling and scoring ability with the Stars, but knew he still had things to work on once he signed with New York.
“Consistency,” Jean said. “I want to be consistent each game. Bring that compete level each game and win battles. Just go out there and play, and I think my play will take care of itself once I get out there — not really think too much and just go out there and play and have some fun.”
Jean said he was happy with his performance in Thursday’s game — until the injury came.
“After the first period, I thought I played pretty well,” Jean said. “Going into the second, I was going to protect the puck in the corner over there and I put my shoulder down and one part of my shoulder took the brunt of the hit — basically, I got hit by another guy — and it took all the force on it and I separated it.”
He said he was diagnosed with a grade three separation.
“As of right now, I’m just going day by day to see how it heals and going from there,” Jean said.
He said he had a grade one separation of his right shoulder years ago, but came back to play in the same game.