Leafs D-man John Klingberg skating but in pain as injury hit ‘rock bottom’

Leafs defenceman John Klingberg says he's still feeling pain and stiffness, and opens up about the nagging injury he's dealt with throughout his career, says he's disappointed that he can't play in general, but especially being in his hometown Sweden.

STOCKHOLM — John Klingberg finally but painfully returned to the ice Friday after his nagging injury hit “rock bottom” earlier this month with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It’s always been there throughout my career, but I’ve been able to deal with it and work through it. But it kind of hit a rock bottom here these last few weeks,” Klingberg said, peeling off his gear inside Stockholm’s Avicii Arena after Friday’s morning skate.

Klingberg underwent double hip surgery in April 2014 and has dealt with hamstring and mobility issues since.

The 31-year-old earned a $4.15-million, one-year contract with the Leafs over the off-season and was positioned as a top-four defender and top-unit power-play quarterback.

Klingberg’s play through 14 games has underwhelmed (four assists, minus-7), and the frustrated right shot will miss a second game due to injury Friday versus the Detroit Red Wings. His availability Sunday versus Minnesota here in his native Sweden is also in doubt.

Klingberg had arranged for more than a dozen friends and family to come see him play in-person during the Global Series.

“It’s just disappointing that I can’t play. That we’re back home in Sweden and all that, it kind of doesn’t really matter. I mean, it’s big for us to be here as a Swede in Sweden and play, but if I would be over in Toronto or on the road or whatever, it’s still disappointing that you can’t be able to dress up and go out and play. That’s just the way it is,” said Klingberg, after a difficult 25-minute session on the ice. “A little bit better, but not good enough.

“Didn’t feel very good out there. Very stiff, a little bit pain. Not a lot of motion. So, we’ve got some stuff to work on here and see if I can be available for Sunday.”

The Maple Leafs have ramped up aggressive treatment on Klingberg’s undisclosed injury in recent days in hopes to get him back on track.

The defenceman remains optimistic that the nagging ailment won’t derail his season. He considers simply hitting the ice Friday a positive step.

“At least I was moving,” Klingberg said.

“Obviously, we have to work a little harder on it and see how I would respond, but it’s still pretty fresh into this treatment. So, we’ll see where it lands,” Klingberg said.

“But hopefully I start feeling better here soon.”

One-Timers: Ryan Reaves is expected to be a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game. … Ilya Samsonov versus Alex Lyon is Friday’s projected goalie matchup. … Former Leaf Justin Holl was a healthy scratch for the Red Wings Thursday.

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