DENVER — When Dennis Seidenberg tore his ACL and MCL on Dec. 27 against Ottawa, word was the Bruins defenseman was out for the season. The timetable given for a recovery was 6-8 months, and he was not expected back until training camp for the 2014-15 season.
But that might not be the case anymore. Although there still is not a significant chance Seidenberg will return for the 2014 postseason, the Bruins are not ruling out that possibility.
Seidenberg, 32, who had surgery Jan. 7, is ahead of schedule in his rehab.
“I’m not counting on this,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said by phone Friday. “He’s ahead of schedule. I don’t like to say, ‘Hey, if we’re in the Finals and we’re in Game 4,’ but that’s the type of scenario. He’s ahead of schedule and you can’t rule anything out, but I’m not counting on it.”
For the Bruins, who are currently second in the NHL in points and come into Friday night’s game on a 10-game winning streak, the deeper into the playoffs they go, the better the chance that Seidenberg could return.
The Stanley Cup Final series would begin around early June, which would be approximately five months from the date of Seidenberg’s surgery.
But the Bruins are going to be extremely cautious.
“What’s important is that people have come back early from ACLs, right?” Chiarelli said. “And they come back and they’re either not the same player or their conditioning and their rehab is good but the actual healing of the ligament is still a little raw. So we’ve got to be careful.
“He’s a tremendously conditioned athlete. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s ahead of schedule, but you can’t ignore the biological time to heal these things.”
The Bruins have been through scenarios like this before, and they will use that experience in their handling of Seidenberg’s case. Chiarelli brought up Patrice Bergeron’s situation in the 2007-08 season, after the center had suffered a career-threatening concussion on Oct. 27, 2007. Bergeron hoped to return for the playoffs, but did not.
“My guess is, if we go deep, he’ll start skating at some point and we’ll just see how he is,” Chiarelli said. “We’ve been very cautious in the past with the injuries and coming back, going back to Patrice and the first concussion he got.
“Really, [Bergeron] was ready, he was cleared to play, but we all agreed he shouldn’t play.
“You’re talking about the long-term interests of the player and the health of the player. So we’ll take the same approach. Different injury, but we’ll take the same approach with it.
“I guess you can’t rule anything out. I’m not counting on it. If it happens, it’s a bonus, but we’re going to be very cautious if we go down that path.”
With the postseason starting in three weeks, the Bruins are doing their best to figure out the defense pairings they will use in the playoffs, shuffling defensemen in and out of the lineup. The team was left with just six healthy options for long stretches of the season with the injuries to Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid (quad). But with the acquisitions of Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter, that has changed for coach Claude Julien.
The focus, for the moment, is on them. It’s not on Seidenberg, a presence of late around TD Garden while doing his rehab. That possibility is still a long shot, and still a long way away.
“I think there’s still a lot of question marks there,” Julien said. “So, you know, I’m not going to say no, but I’m certainly not going to stand here and say there’s a great chance he’ll be back. I think when the time comes, he’ll be evaluated, but the surgery was a pretty serious one and we have to make a real good decision there.
“If you see him back, it’s because everybody feels pretty comfortable about it and medically the doctors feel really strongly that he can. So right now it’s not even something that we’re entertaining here in the dressing room right now at this stage.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.