Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf celebrates after scoring against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009. AP Phot/The Canadian Press,Darryl Dyck
VANCOUVER, B.C. - After a week from hell, Ryan Getzlaf felt like he was in heaven.
The big centre got to take the ice with Team Canada for its only pre-Olympic practice on Monday, a sight many observers never expected to see. Getzlaf received medical clearance on his sprained left ankle only hours earlier and was included on the team's final 23-man roster.
He sat out a couple games for the Anaheim Ducks before returning with a four-point performance in Edmonton on Sunday. Even still, he had to pass a series of tests before executive director Steve Yzerman was comfortable including him on the roster.
The good news came after a stressful few days filled with plenty of uncertainty.
"It feels great," said Getzlaf. "We had many meetings with the doctors and all that stuff. Our medical staff with Anaheim did a great job for me. I owe them a lot for why I'm here right now. This last week has been tough and today was the biggest relief in the world just to get out there on the ice with the guys."
Canada enters the tournament with the same 23 players Yzerman announced on Dec. 30.
Getzlaf was really the only question mark after suffering the injury early last week in a collision with Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown, a U.S. Olympian. He fell awkwardly to the ice after the hit.
"When it first happened, it was one of the scariest things I've been through," said Getzlaf.
As recently as Saturday, it appeared that the 24-year-old might have sit out the Olympic tournament. That's when Yzerman met the media and noted that players with ankle injuries tend to need more than a week for recovery.
"It is a tricky one, there's a lot of uncertainty," said Yzerman. "That's what makes it a risk for a guy to play early after that type of an injury. The history of this type of injury ... there's a good possibility of a recurrence."
Philadelphia Flyers forward Jeff Carter even flew in to Vancouver on Sunday as a potential replacement for Getzlaf. He headed home once it was clear he wouldn't be needed.
The roster was officially submitted Monday and cannot be changed at any point during the event. The Canadian team opens the tournament Tuesday against Norway.
Getzlaf was aware of how valuable his spot on the team was and wouldn't have even showed up in Vancouver for tests if he wasn't sure he could play.
"I definitely had to put those guys in the room ahead of my own priorities, as well as my organization," said Getzlaf. "(The Ducks) have invested a lot of time and money into me. I got to make sure I'm ready for the whole season, not just these two weeks. We were comfortable with that. It worked out the way we wanted."