Jim Slater signed a two-year contract with the Thrashers as an unrestricted free agent last summer. However, a concussion cost him half the season. Slater missed the final 41 games after suffering the injury in a collision with teammate Dustin Byfuglien in December. Slater tried to return to the lineup but suffered several setbacks.
In 36 games, Slater finished with five goals and seven assists.
In the next of a series of interviews with Thrashers players following the 2010-11 season, here is some of what Slater had to say about his injury and the disappointment of the season.
Q. How is your health? How are things?
A. Obviously, it’s not as good as I want it to be right now. I missed a big portion of the season which was very difficult for myself, very frustrating. It’s one that I never want to relive again. It’s a matter of having a good summer, rehabbing to my normal self and moving on from here. I can’t do anything about it. Right now, it’s just one of those things that takes time. Time is critical. Right now I have some time to get better.
Q. You would get to the point where you would put six or seven days together and then suffer a set back?
A. When it first happened I thought I would be out for a week, at the most. I tried pushing it about three and half weeks ago to get back with some games left. Hopefully the season was going to be prolonged for us and I could step in and play into the playoffs. That didn’t work for us. I tried pushing it and it didn’t happen. Once the team was officially eliminated from contention there wasn’t really that big of a need for me to keep trying. That’s when we made the decision to take it off and get better.
Q. I know you had one day where you skated for about 40 minutes. Then what happened?
A. I skated for four or five days for that long. I was feeling really good. That’s the thing with this headache with me. I felt good for a number of days then there would be one or two days that set me back a couple of steps. It’s the most frustrating injury I’ve ever had.
Q. How big of a disappointment was this season, especially after signing a new [two-year] deal and hoping to have an impact?
A. I feel like I’m a valuable asset to this team. I think I make us a better team and give us a chance to win. After the beginning of the season, I thought this was definitely going to be a year where we went deep in the playoffs. We weren’t there and it’s tough to see because we worked really hard. It wasn’t meant to be this year.
Q. One player doesn’t make a hockey team but you could point to your injury as when the slide started. Do you think that?
A. I don’t look at it that way. I just feel that I’m a big asset to this team. Any way I can help this team win, I’m going to go out there and do that. We brought a couple of guys up during that time and they played really good. To say, that it was because of me, I don’t look at it that way at all.
The series will continue over the next couple of weeks. Coming Wednesday, Mark Stuart.