When the Dallas Stars signed veteran forward Jiri Hudler to a one-year, $2 million contract extension this off-season, there was hope for the 32-year-old who had just come off a season where he was traded by the Calgary Flames to the Florida Panthers at the National Hockey League Trade Deadline. Over the course of the 2015-16 season, Hudler scored a total of 46 points in 72 games played. In 53 games with the Flames, he had ten goals and 25 assists. When traded to the Panthers, he scored six goals and added five helpers in 19 games. In six Stanley Cup playoff games, he tallied a lone assist, before the Cats were eliminated by the New York Islanders in the first round.
— Sonny Sachdeva (@SachdevaSonny) August 24, 2016
The 2016-17 Season
Fast forward to this season, where Hudler earned a fresh start with an explosive offensive team highlighted by forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, and defenseman John Klingberg. When the Dallas Stars kicked off the 2016-17 campaign against the Anaheim Ducks, Hudler was in the starting lineup. He remained there for three more games when out of nowhere he was sidelined.
His last game played was on November 1st against the Columbus Blue Jackets. At first, the reason why was unknown, but it became apparent that the right-winger was suffering from some sort of virus. Hudler saw the Stars’ team doctors and medical officials and also visited his personal doctor, with no diagnosis. It wasn’t the flu, mumps, or anything of the sort but rather a mysterious sickness. Since playing in those four games in October/November, Hudler has been sidelined, rehabbing and taking care of himself in an effort to return to the team as soon as possible.
“It’s been a long time and frustrating, but it is coming along. I hope I am going to be playing as soon as possible,” Hudler said, according to sportsday.dallasnews.com. “I just felt really bad for the past five or six weeks or whatever it was. I’ve never been in this situation before, and I never want to be again, that’s for sure.
“To be honest with you,” he continued, “I don’t know what my status is right now. I am just trying to do my thing every day, trying to get on the ice and get playing.”
Starting this week, Hudler has returned to skating on his own as well as participating in team practices. He has been playing alongside Tyler Seguin, alternating with fellow right winger Patrick Eaves. He stated this week that he was “symptom-free” and feeling much better. His return is rumored to be on Thursday night, when the Dallas Stars host the Nashville Predators at the American Airlines Center. If Hudler does not suit up and play on against the Predators, Head Coach Lindy Ruff said the weekend is a definite.
Jiri Hudler (illness) practiced today, doing better but will need more practice time before he is ready to play.
— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) December 5, 2016
“That was probably the hardest practice he’s gone through,” Ruff said told NHL.com. “I think that with the number of games we’ve got coming up and the back-to-back, that getting him in the lineup is important. [Thursday] is a possibility, the weekend for sure.”
With Hudler returning to action, he is looking to get on the scoresheet. The forward has zero points in his four games played and has a negative three plus/minus.