Drury moving on from hit that sidelined him
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Chris Drury doesn't have time to be angry over Ottawa forward Chris Neil's blindside hit that sent the Sabres co-captain flying and sparked a brawl last week. He's too busy trying to get back to his battered team.
"I've seen it probably more than I want to," Drury said Thursday of the widely broadcast hit. "I'm not a guy that's going to be commenting too much on it. It's over with."
Sporting a gash and severe bruise around a right eye that is deeply reddened after 20 stitches to repair the deep cut, Drury didn't want to get into a war of words with Neil, who believes the hit -- which Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff called dirty -- was legal. The center has chosen to look forward instead of back.
"I'd rather be playing than not playing. That's frustrating," he said during his first availability with Buffalo-area reporters since the controversial collision. "But being mad or angry or upset isn't going to get me back sooner. I don't want to be carrying that baggage around."
Drury said he was knocked out by the hit and doesn't remember it, but he never experienced a headache of any kind afterward.
"My eye hurt, but other than that there weren't any other symptoms," he said. "Overall I guess I got pretty lucky."
He has been ruled out of this weekend's games against Montreal and Toronto, but is optimistically targeting a return Wednesday when Buffalo hosts Colorado.
"Every day is another step," he said.
Drury skated before the team's practice on Thursday, joining assistant coach James Patrick and injured defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. Following the workout he said he felt much better compared to last week, and had no problems with his vision or his head while on the ice.
"Hockey-wise I felt a bit rusty, but overall it was a pretty good day," he said.
Ruff, meanwhile, wasn't surprised that Drury chose to take the high road regarding a hit the coach labeled as "predator-type."
"He's very professional and moving on already," said Ruff, who was fined $10,000 for his role in the donnybrook last week. "There's no use regurgitating it. His focus is on getting ready to play."
Some of Drury's teammates have begun to kid him about his scary-looking face, but all have respect for the way he has handled himself throughout the last seven days.
"For him to come out now and say something, it's not going to help anything," forward Thomas Vanek said. "He's the type of person that can look beyond what happened."
Drury's return can't come too soon for a Sabres team that is missing seven regulars because of various injuries. Buffalo acquired forward Dainius Zubrus on Tuesday in a trade with Washington to help offset some of the losses, but the return of its leading goal-scorer is vital as the postseason approaches.
"We're going with where the doctors take us and how Chris is feeling," Ruff said. "You're not going to hold him back. If they say he's ready and he wants to play, he'll kick the door down."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press