Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart  was back on the ice for a second day on in a row on Friday as he resumes hockey activities after being grounded with cellulitis in his right forearm since the beginning of April. Cellulitis is an infection of the deepest layers of the skin and can spread throughout the blood stream and the lymph system with sometimes fatal consequences. Stuart has been held away from the team and from doing any type of exercise because he was not allowed to get sweat near the spot of the infection, and he wears a cast-like IV over the spot for the time being. Stuart had surgery on the area earlier this month and knows that this type of injury can be extremely serious.
“Yeah, it can be very serious. You have to take care of it. It is very serious and, you know, they did a good job of going in there and cleaning it out and now it is up to me to watch it and make sure that I am taking the meds the right way and, yeah, you have to take care of it,” Stuart said. “I think the doctors did a great job and a lot of the responsibility is on me.”
Stuart got the infection after a cut on his arm swelled up badly and quickly got worse. The Bruins initially thought that he would be missing in action for two weeks or so, but the first round of antibiotics did not take to the infection and doctors had to take time to figure out which medication was right to treat the injury.
“It swelled up badly and the infection was bad and got worse and it escalated pretty quickly, so I got on the meds and it was kind of trial and error a the beginning to find out which meds were the right ones because there is different types of bacteria, different types of infection. So, I am on the right one right now and we go from there,” Stuart said.
Unlike Marc Savard , who understandably was in a mental daze for weeks after his concussion, Stuart has been cognizant during his time away from the team — though, like Savard, not allowed to do any physical activity. Talking to Stuart, one got the sense that he has been extremely bored for the last month and has been ready to run for weeks. He was allowed to get on a training bike three days ago.
“Just going out and skating, just jumping on the bike three days ago is huge for me. Just to start doing stuff. The worst part is not only just playing but not being able to do anything and really sweat, so I think it is just nice to get out there again and we will work on trying to get back playing,” Stuart said.
Coach Claude Julien  said that the recent news on Stuart is encouraging and that, if all things go well, he is on the day-to-day list in terms of practicing with the team. Having Stuart on the horizon is a good safety net for Boston because Andrew Ference  has been playing with a torn adductor and hernia and, even though he made it through the Buffalo series, is a ticking time bomb as to how long he can stay on the ice, as even he has admitted.
“Well, it is because what he has gone through is unpredictable as far as the length of time that he would miss and, you know, we were told something at the beginning and obviously it didn’t respond as well,” Julien said. “We got bad news in his case and things were looking worse and now things are looking much better. That’s what happens with the type of injury that he has suffered and the infection that has gotten into it, so it is nice to see him on the ice. It is nice to have good news, and he is a day-to-day situation in terms of how he is doing, and we will go with that. If everything goes well, hopefully we will see him practicing with the rest of the guys here soon.”
A few people who saw Stuart yesterday noted that, of all the players on the team, he has the best playoff beard of all of them. Really, nobody comes close. Perhaps it is just Stuart’s manly nature, but maybe, just maybe, he had a trick up his sleeve.
“Yeah, I cheated,” he said. “This was an injury, I started this when I got surgery, so I got a couple of weeks on them.”