Coyotes’ Richardson ready to return from fractured leg

Come opening night, it will be almost 11 months since Brad Richardson last played for the Arizona Coyotes.

The veteran forward suffered a fractured fibula and tibia in a game against the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 17, and he finally feels ready to get back out there after a failed attempt to play late last season due to lingering pain.

"If training camp started tomorrow I'd be out there," he said Thursday, per the team's website. "I feel night-and-day different than I did four months ago. I probably need a little more time on the ice and some reps, but I'm feeling really good and I'm ready to go.

"The hardest thing was trying to get my leg strong and to fire again and be normal. I put a lot of hours in doing that. Realistically it might take me a little bit of time just to get back in and feel confident, but I think it's going to happen. I want to get better and I'm planning on it. I've put the work in to get better."

Richardson was stretchered off the ice after an awkward collision with Nikita Tryamkin, and distinctly recalls when he realized how serious the injury must be.

"When I think about that night it's hard," Richardson said. "I kind of get hot and sweaty when I do because the pain was so unbelievable. When it happened I knew it was really bad right away. I could feel my leg snap. But I can still see that fan in the crowd and see his face vividly. His expression was like 'Oh my God!' and I remember thinking 'Oh boy, I'm in trouble.' Even though I knew it was pretty bad, that fan's face summed up just how bad it really was."

At 32, Richardson enters 2017-18 as the oldest player on the Coyotes' roster, and his 607 games of NHL experience will be counted on to help lead this pack of young desert dogs.

If anything, Richardson is showing his young teammates how to bounce back from a fairly gruesome and possibly career-ending injury.

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