Buffalo Sabres' Tyler Myers shooting during NHL hockey practice in Buffalo, N.Y. April 7, 2010. (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Calling his injured ankle fully healed, Sabres defenceman Tyler Myers complained that the only thing slowing him down Thursday was jet lag.
"A little rusty," Myers said. "I'm sucking wind a little bit today, but it'll get better."
After spending much of Tuesday travelling home from Austria, where he had been playing during the NHL lockout, Myers became the latest Sabre to rejoin his teammates for a series of informal practices being held this week at a suburban arena.
Most important, Myers said he's ready for the start of the regular season that's expected to open in 10 days, and is fully recovered from a high ankle sprain he sustained early last month.
"Yeah, it's fine," Myers said. "I made sure it was ready to go before I came back. I'm feeling 100 per cent right now."
Playing for Austria's Klagenfurter AC, Myers twisted his ankle while attempting to defend an opponent driving to the net during a game in early December. He missed about a month before returning to play one game last week.
"It got me a little nervous at the start, but once we figured out what it was, I knew it would be pretty quick," Myers said. "I didn't want to push it to try to come back too early in case the season did come back."
Myers showed no sign of the injury bothering him during the 90-minute session that featured about a dozen Sabres. He had no trouble starting or stopping, or making crossover steps during drills in which he battled for puck possession in the corners and behind the net.
And the 6-foot-8 Myers showed the familiar acceleration and catch-up speed that makes him one of the team's most fluid skaters.
Though the labour deal is not yet finalized, the Sabres are preparing for the start of training camp, which could open as early as Sunday.
Myers, the NHL's 2010 rookie of the year, is Buffalo's top defenceman and entering the first of a seven-year, $38.5 million contract extension he signed in September 2011. He's set to make $12 million this season.
Myers' importance to the Sabres was evident last season, when he missed 27 games, including 19 straight with a broken hand. Buffalo went 9-11-7 without him, and 30-21-4 with him in missing the playoffs by finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference standings.
He finished with eight goals and 15 assists in 55 games.
Other new arrivals at practice were backup goalie Jhonas Enroth and defencemen Andrej Sekera and Adam Pardy.
Enroth spent part of the lockout playing in his native Sweden. Pardy was acquired along with centre Steve Ott by Buffalo in a trade that sent centre Derek Roy to Dallas last summer.
Starting goalie Ryan Miller is expected to join his teammates on Friday.
Retired Sabres Andrew Peters and Jay McKee are informally overseeing the sessions. They have consulted with the Sabres coaching staff regarding drills and what to focus on during practice.