|Jordan DePape skates Tuesday|
The 20 year old forward arrived in town this past weekend and has taken part in his first ice sessions with his new club. DePape did some individual skating and puck handling drills prior to main Rebels practices Monday and Tuesday.
DePape is right on track with his recovery from shoulder surgery last fall and is scheduled to suit up for the Rebels before the end of the regular season.
I’m super excited,” DePape admitted before hitting the ice on Monday. “Since I got picked up on the trade deadline I’ve been anxious to get out here and it’s finally nice to meet the boys.”
DePape’s signing by the Rebels almost didn’t happen. He’d had multiple talks with the Edmonton Oil Kings before speaking with the Rebels in the final hours before the deadline.
“I was at a movie at the theatre and I kept getting these calls from random numbers and I was putting it [phone] away in my pocket. Then I finally listened to my voice mail and it was [Brent] Sutter so I had to give them a call right away.
While the deal to bring DePape to Red Deer came together at the last minute, Sutter says he’d been eyeing Jordan for a while before acquiring his services.
“It was something that had been discussed beforehand,” Sutter explained on Monday. “It really wasn’t a difficult thing. We just had to do some research, because of the injury, to see for sure where he was at with the timeframe. It was something we needed to do our due diligence on in making the right decision.”
Sutter did also admit that the move to bring in DePape gained momentum after his efforts to bring in another 20 year old, ie. Adam Kambeitz, fell through.
“If we weren’t able to get a 20 year old, at that point in time, that we thought could come and help our hockey team immediately and be impactful for us then we were certainly going to move forward with Jordan’s situation.”
DePape was released last fall by the Kamloops Blazers after suffering his second major shoulder injury in as many seasons (the Blazers, as you will recall, then tried filling their open overage spot with Charles Inglis). Last season, Jordan underwent surgery for a fully dislocated left shoulder. This time around, his right shoulder went under the knife.
“It’s not a full dislocation but there is was a tear in the labrum. I rehabbed it and came back in about a week and a half and there wasn’t a problem. Then, just from a little hit, I hurt it again. The doctors told me this would be repeated again during the season if I don’t get it fixed. So, I thought it was best decision for me to get it fixed.”
The general consensus was that DePape’s junior hockey career was over. But his recovery went well enough that the Rebels felt confident he could play before the end of the regular season. Sutter says that prediction is set to become reality.
“It’s all right on course. It’s exactly what we were told in the first part of January. Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go for the last weekend of the season and he’ll certainly be a welcome addition.”
Let’s give DePape the credit he deserves. Dealing with two major injuries and going through two surgeries in as many seasons is not exactly an easy thing to do. But he’s done his best to maintain a good attitude and get back on the ice. The last thing he wanted was for his WHL career to end with his arm in a sling.
“I’ve really tried to stay positive. I really wanted to do whatever I could to make a comeback and finish my junior career the right way.”
DePape is also excited to be resuming/finishing his junior career with the Rebels, a team which is gearing up for the postseason.
“I’m extremely happy about that. They’ve obviously seen me play over the past few years. They had that 20 year old open and it was a free pick up for them, so I was more than happy to join them.”
Sutter is also looking forward to seeing what Jordan brings to his club both on and off the ice.
“He hasn’t played in a while, so we’ll have to be patient with that. But he’s a smart player that plays hard and he’ll bring a bit of a different element… He’s a good guy and is going to give us some leadership at a critical time of the year.”
Jordan is scheduled to join me on 106.7 The Drive during our Rebels/Cougars broadcast on Wednesday night. On Thursday, he's heading back to Kamloops to take part in a JDRF Fundraiser event with the Blazers on Thursday.