Milan Michalek did not want to face the prospect of recovering from another major knee surgery.
So instead of going under the knife, the Senators winger opted for a non-traditional procedure this summer in Germany that involved blood injections to his chronically injured knee.
Michalek says the overseas procedure was a resounding success and he will be ready for the start of Senators training camp on Wednesday.
“If I had a surgery it would have been long, so I wanted to go this way, and hopefully it’s going to be good,” Michalek said on Monday. “I went there right after the season, so it helped me right away. I’ve been progressing every day and it feels good now and I’m 100 per cent.”
Michalek spent a week in Germany after the Senators were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Penguins. The blood serum treatment was administered by Dr. Peter Wehling, who also has done similar work on high-profile NBA athletes such as Kobe Bryant.
The procedure involves extracting blood from the patient, then spinning it in a centrifuge to separate the white blood cells. The cells are then heated and injected with a serum that has healing properties, which is then re-injected into the site of the injury.
While it may sound like an unorthodox procedure, it has been approved by the FDA in the United States.
Michalek has been increasing his work load over the summer and has been skating now for about a month with no setbacks.
“I skated really hard this summer. I tested it a lot and it felt good and hopefully it’s going to be good,” he said.
Michalek’s health has been a major concern since he broke into the NHL in 2003. He has been sidelined with multiple knee injuries and other ailments that have hampered his production. A fully healthy Michalek scored 35 goals for the Senators two seasons ago, but he was limited to just four goals in 23 regular season games during the lockout-shortened campaign of 2012-13.
This is a significant year for Michalek who enters the final season of a six-year, $26 million contract he signed when he was still with the San Jose Sharks. If he has another injury-riddled campaign, it may hurt his negotiating power as a free agent next summer.
“It’s a big year for me, but I’m trying not to put too much pressure on (myself),” added Michalek. “If the team’s not doing good, I’m not doing good. I just want to stay healthy and hopefully we’re going to do good this year.”
Michalek’s production in the 2013-14 season may also depend on his linemates. He has shown good chemistry with Jason Spezza in the past and now that Bobby Ryan is in the fold as well, there is a chance Michalek could be placed on a line with the team’s two biggest stars.
“I didn’t talk to Paul yet, I just got here yesterday. We’ll see how it’s going to go in training camp. For sure, it would be nice to play with these two (Spezza and Ryan) — they’re great players. But we’ll see.”