‘It’s been a battle’: Canucks’ Pearson still struggling with hand injury

Vancouver Canucks winger Tanner Pearson says he’s still working his way back to health nearly six months after breaking his hand in a game.

“I’m just trying to get my hand back,” he told reporters at a season-ending press conference Saturday. “I’m just trying to be a dad and be with my kids and be able to play at the moment. It sucks.”

The 30-year-old broke his hand in Vancouver’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 9 and was initially expected to be out up to six weeks, but instead underwent multiple surgeries before the team announced in January that he would miss the rest of the season.

He played just 14 games, scoring a goal and contributing four assists.

“It’s been a crappy year, to say the least,” Pearson said. “Right now, I’m just taking it day-by-day, week-by-week and trying to progress.”

This season was the forward’s 12th in the NHL. Drafted 30th overall by the Kings in 2012, the native of Kitchener, Ont., has played for L.A., Pittsburgh and Vancouver, winning a Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2014. He has 133 goals and 139 assists in 590 regular-season games.

Questions arise over how injury was handled

Pearson’s injury — and its treatment — drew ample talk around the market. Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes said publicly the situation “wasn’t handled properly.”

Jim Rutherford, the team’s president of hockey operations, said in January that he had done a “thorough review” and was open to having the NHL Players’ Association or the league look into the case.

“If there was any wrongdoing, we want to get it right going forward, OK? But based on our [internal investigation] here, we’re more than comfortable with the way things have been handled,” he said. “But having someone come in and look at it would be fine.”

Pearson declined to share his feelings on how his injury was handled Saturday, but admitted it has been difficult to be sidelined for much of the season.

While he continued to go to the rink every day when the Canucks were in town, seeing text messages from his teammates having fun on the road wasn’t easy, he said.

“It was definitely tough. I try to live my life as normal as possible,” he said. “It’s been a battle.”

Pearson said he has timelines that he’d like to hit as he continues to work his way back, but the process has been slow.

He said he’s back to working out in the gym and will continue to do his best over the summer to prepare for next season, though he’s limited in what he’s able to do.

“I’m still going to approach this summer like I’m still a hockey player,” Pearson said. “I have to. If not, I come back and I’m way behind the eight ball. It’s going to be a really, really hard summer. I know that, I’m prepared for it.”

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