With the loss of three senior forwards to graduation as well as underclassmen Jordy Murray and Craig Smith leaving early to sign pro contracts, one of the biggest question marks going into the upcoming season for the Wisconsin men's hockey team is how they are going to replace the offensive production from those five players. One of the names that has been brought up as a source to help put some points on the board for the Badgers this season is Sophomore forward Jason Clark.
The Eden Prairie, Minnesota native came to the Badgers last year expecting to make an immediate impact. Clark came to Madison from Shattuck St. Mary's prep school where he played well enough to turn himself into an NHL Draft prospect. The New York Islanders liked the 6'2, 185 pound lefty enough to select him in the third round (82nd overall) in the 2010 draft. But the production never came in his rookie season and many wondered why. Clark played in 14 scattered games, mostly all in the first half of the season recording only 1 point, an assist against Minnesota-Duluth in mid-November.
Turns out it's rather difficult to play in the WCHA with a torn labrum in your hip. With rumors swirling around about Clark possibly having off season surgery, Bucky's 5th Quarter was able to reach Clark over the weekend to clear things up.
Clark explained that the left hip had bothered him for a while, dating back to his time at Shattuck but became increasingly difficult to deal with this past season.
"Throughout the last three years my left hip always bothered me, and last year it got really bad and actually started to limit my skating motion significantly after tweaking it a couple times at the beginning of the year."
Fighting through the pain Clark knew something was wrong but didn't understand how significant the injury was until he got an MRI because some days the hip didn't bother him. An MRI done in May showed a tear of the labrum in his left hip as well as bone impingement which basically means that the ball and socket of the hip can't smoothly move in a full range of motion. Clark met with Dr. Chris Larson who would do the surgery on Clark's left hip but soon found out that it wasn't going to be the only time he would be going under the knife this summer.
"After meeting with him he checked on my right hip even though I rarely had problems with that, and when he saw limited motion he said I would need to get that one done also, if not now, sometime down the road."
With three years of college hockey and hopefully a professional career ahead of himself, Clark made the decision to take care of both hips as soon as possible. Clark had surgery to repair the right hip on June 7th and the left hip July 16th.
While his return to hockey has yet to be officially determined, if his rehab continues to go as well as it is right now, we'll be seeing Clark on the ice soon.
"The recovery has surprisingly been going great and I have been walking and doing bike sprints with no pain."
A pain free Clark would be a big boost to this years club offensively, and they could sure use it.
UPDATE: Clark informed us that he's scheduled to be back on the ice for the first time September 7th but is hoping to get that moved up a week or so because of his advanced progress in rehab so far. Clark also mentioned that he was told as soon as he can skate full speed with no pain he will be cleared for games and he doesn't anticipate that being more than two weeks after his first time back on the ice. That means he could be full go by September 21st, more than enough time to be ready for Wisconsin's season opener vs Northern Michigan October 7th.
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