When Jochen Hecht walked into the dressing room following practice Tuesday, the Sabres center greeted the cameras and reporters at his stall with a wide grin.
For weeks, the 34-year-old had only given updates about the setbacks he’s endured after suffering a concussion early in training camp. Finally, Hecht could talk about his return tonight against the Boston Bruins at the First Niagara Center, his first game the April 26 playoff finale.
“Yeah, I’m excited about it,” Hecht said. “It’s been a long time.”
Counting the postseason, Hecht, who also had a concussion late last season, has only played one of the last 33 games and five of the last 46.
His recent recovery had been riddled with setbacks. When he appeared close to playing, he’d suddenly be unable to practice. The Sabres shut him down earlier this month, and he returned symptom-free.
“When I took that week off again and just changed treatment a little bit, that really helped,” said Hecht, who began seeing a chiropractor and taking different medicine. “I’ve been fine since. Not really pushing it over the edge.”
Did Hecht ever feel like he’d never get back?
“No. It was getting frustrating getting close to coming back but you’re still not 100 percent,” he said. “That week helped out. My treatment right now is catching on. I feel 100 percent again.”
Hecht practiced between rookies Luke Adam and Corey Tropp on Tuesday.
“Two young kids and the old guy,” Hecht joked.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff wouldn’t confirm Hecht would play.
Notes: Ruff mixed up some trios Tuesday, putting center Brad Boyes on the No. 1 line with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. Derek Roy went back between Ville Leino and Drew Stafford. … Winger Patrick Kaleta sat practice (maintenance day). Meanwhile, soreness forced winger Tyler Ennis (ankle sprain) to sit the session. “Some of that can be expected,” Ruff said. “We’ve ramped up the workload. So it tells us he’s not quite there yet.”