BUFFALO – Without his explosiveness and the ability to juke opponents, speedy Sabres winger Tyler Ennis believes he’s “pretty useless out there.”
“I have to be able to use my agility, my speed, my quickness to create space,” Ennis said this morning after skating with his teammates inside KeyBank Center.
Ennis, 27, couldn’t do any of that earlier this season. The longest-tenured Sabre said he felt something “gradually getting worse” in his groin. An examination found tears, so he underwent surgery for a groin and hernia problem Nov. 10.
“It was really limiting me, and a guy like myself, I have to kind of be able to skate fast and to be agile and be quick,” Ennis said. “I wasn’t able to do that, so it was important to get the surgery done.”
This morning marked Ennis’ return to team skates. He participated in a non-contact role as the Sabres prepared for tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins. He has been rehab skating with assistant coach Dennis Miller.
“I still got to get everything feeling 100 percent, so today was a good first step,” Ennis said.
Ennis, who has missed 22 games, has no timeline for a return.
“It’s still a fairly long road for Tyler to assimilate and get back into playing a game,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.
Ennis said: “Groins are tricky. It took a little bit to heal up and stuff. It’s been frustrating, but I’ve had a lot of good treatment and the trainers have done a good job.”
The last year has been arduous for Ennis. Fresh off his second straight 20-goal season, he suffered two concussions in the first three months of 2015-16.
The one he suffered Dec. 30 ended his season, meaning in a year, Ennis has played 12 games.
“It’s about as tough a thing as you can go through as a hockey,” Ennis said. “We all want to be out there, hockey’s our life. So it’s frustrating, but I know once I get my body healed up 100 percent I’m going to be a better player.”
Ennis has one goal and two points this season.