by Lindsay Kramer || NHL.com
Lindsay Kramer, the AHL correspondent for NHL.com, profiles an up-and-coming player each Monday during the season, and his AHL notebook appears each Thursday on NHL.com.
Hershey coach Bob Woods looks past medicine and to a geographical explanation for how forward Quintin Laing was able to return earlier than expected from a badly injured spleen.
“He’s a Saskatchewan boy,” said Woods, who hails from the province as well. “That’s how we work out there. It takes a lot to keep him down.”
Without a doubt, but a more compelling answer is that Laing, 29, just doesn’t want to miss out on any more fun in what’s been a trying season.
The Bears have reached the Calder Cup Finals against Manitoba, in large part because of the goal and two assists that Laing posted in the series-clinching Game 5 win against Providence in the Eastern Conference Finals. That effort came two games after Laing returned from the spleen injury, which originally was expected to cost him the year.
“You want to be on the ice and be a part of it. When you are in the stands, watching the guys winning, you don’t have the same emotion,” he said.
Laing suffered a knee injury playing against Syracuse on Feb. 16 that kept him out a month, but that was just a distasteful prelude. In his first game back, playing for the Washington Capitals, he took a hit that lacerated his spleen in three places. Laing spent four days in the hospital and the injury was originally diagnosed as a season-ender, but that was later revised downward to a couple of months.
But first, of course, the Bears had to do their part by winning a couple of series. Laing gave Woods the thumbs up during the Game 3 morning skate he was in the lineup that night against Providence.
“I think the adrenaline of game day had something to do with it,” Laing said. “The first period, I don’t think I went out of my way to hit too many guys, just because of the conditioning factor. It takes the wind out of you.”
Now that he’s back on the ice, Laing hopes his timing is a little better than it’s been the past couple years. He joined the Bears in 2006-07, the year after the team won the Calder Cup, and lost in the finals in his first season with Hershey. He played in 39 games with the Capitals last year and might have been on his way to a lot more this season if not for the injury.
“To come back and play in the finals, it’s pretty fine with me right now,” he said.