Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny took one more step toward returning to the lineup Sunday, practicing in contact drills with his teammates for the first time since suffering a concussion in a preseason game.
The development came a day after Kempny practiced for the first time in nearly two weeks, albeit while wearing a light blue, noncontact sweater. Kempny shed that jersey for normal colors during a physical session Sunday in which he looked comfortable jostling with teammates and throwing his weight around. He’s likely to play Wednesday against visiting Vegas.
“I’ll talk with [Coach Todd Reirden]. Probably. I hope so,” Kempny said Sunday.
Kempny said he doesn’t remember the shift in which he suffered the concussion in a preseason game at St. Louis in late September, admitting that the first few days after the injury were difficult because he had never suffered a concussion.
“I didn’t know what to expect from it,” he said. “The first couple days were not good. But after that, I felt better and better.”
Kempny missed the first two games of the regular season, but the team’s five-day layoff has given him plenty of opportunity to work his way back into playing shape. Washington’s roster was fully intact Sunday; beyond Kempny, defenseman Brooks Orpik returned to practice after taking a maintenance day Saturday. Kempny’s return to action probably would mean Washington reassigns forward Jayson Megna, who cleared waivers last week, to Hershey of the American Hockey League.
Reirden also plans for forward Dmitrij Jaskin to make his regular season debut Wednesday.
“I feel pretty good. It’s great to be back with the guys on the ice,” Kempny said. “Things like this happen. It’s hockey. I got hurt, and I had to deal with it. Now I feel great, and I’m back.”