Canes forward Tuomo Ruutu exerts a lot of energy when he's playing hockey, going hard on the forecheck, banging bodies.
Imagine having all that energy and not being able to play hockey.
"It has been tough, very tough," Ruutu said in an interview Wednesday.
Ruutu underwent hip surgery in Vail, Colo., in December and could be sidelined for all of the regular season. His only PNC Arena appearance was at the home opener, when he was introduced with his teammates and waved from the bench.
"That opening ceremony, and they're calling all the names to go on the ice, and you're on the bench and unable to go out and have that emotion, in front of all the fans, it was tough," he said.
Ruutu said for now it's all about the rehab, saying, "It's trying to get the range of motion back."
"I always said when you injure yourself, it's almost twice as much work as playing, in some ways," he said. "It's mentally tough on you. But you've got to just hang in there and stay positive."
Ruutu skated with some of the Canes in informal workouts in early September at Raleigh Center Ice, but the pain in the hip progressively worsened, he said.
"I've had it for a while and we tried to rehab it," he said. "It came to a point where in some way it seemed to be getting better, but it wasn't. It was getting worse. We really didn't have any other option that having the surgery.
"That's the last option, obviously. But we had to do it."
Ruutu said there was no target date for a return, saying he still was in the early stage of rehab. He said he still was on crutches a few weeks ago.
"I just take it day by day and see how it goes," he said.
Ruutu said he has been to the three home games and called the Canes a "great team that has made some great additions."
"I think we have a great chance to go all the way," he said.