St. Louis Blues' Eric Brewer expects to be ready by September
BY JEREMY RUTHERFORD
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Tuesday, Jun. 02 2009
Eric Brewer says the words "career threatening" have never entered his
Nearly six months after his first back surgery, and six weeks since a second
procedure, Brewer believes he'll return as a captain and defensman for the
Blues. In fact, he insists he'll be ready for the start of training camp in
"I'm very confident," Brewer said. "You surround yourself with people that give
you the advice you need, you believe in them and away you go. You set some
goals and it's amazing how many things will work. I fully plan to start in
September and don't have any plans not to. If the worse case happens and I
wasn't (able), then I'll deal with that then."
While Brewer remains optimistic, he admits that he's still waiting for proper
feeling to return to his right leg and foot. He hasn't skated since January and
only recently was given the go-ahead to begin rehabbing again, following his
second operation in mid-April.
"I've still got some issues in my foot and down the outer part of my right leg
... like pins and needles or an electric-type feel," Brewer said.
In mid-December, almost overnight, Brewer's right leg became immobile, forcing
the club's leader in ice time out of the lineup. A diagnosis discovered a
herniated disk, affecting Brewer's sciatic nerve, which starts in the lower
back and runs through the hip and down the lower limbs.
"Sciatica" is the term for the pain caused by the compression of the spinal
nerves, typically from wear and tear of the lower spine, and tends to lead to
more leg pain than back pain.
Brewer, who had never experienced such symptoms, had surgery Dec. 19 in St.
Louis to repair the disk and allow the sciatic nerve to regenerate.
After six weeks, Brewer returned to off-ice workouts and attempted some light
skating, but there was no progress, so the workouts were halted.
"I had some issues," Brewer said. "We tried a series of non-surgical methods to
see if it would work and it didn't."
He sat idle for weeks.
Then after the Blues were eliminated from the playoffs, the team announced that
Brewer had undergone a second back procedure in Los Angeles.
"I had some more fragment pieces pressing on the nerve, which was causing my
leg to not work properly," Brewer said. "They removed that and it's gotten a
little better. There's no pressure on it. But I still have some lasting effects
and it's still not where it needs to be."
Brewer hasn't been unable to lift anything of significant size for the past six
"I don't pick up my (daughter Reese), I don't make dinner, I don't do anything
in the yard," Brewer said. "When we flew home (to Vancouver), the only thing
that I carried was my wallet, phone and iPod."
Brewer started rehab in Vancouver last week but noted, "I can't just go to the
gym and start lifting whatever. There's going to be a progression to that, too."
Blues President John Davidson wants Brewer to take his rehab slow, saying that
Brewer might have worked too hard following his first operation in December.
"You try to get back in the lineup ... you rush yourself and it doesn't help
you ... all of us have done it," Davidson said.
"I possibly could have been doing too much," Brewer countered, "but I've heard
about people who have re-injured themselves picking up a shoe off the ground,
or just basic functions of life, not doing something athletic. It's really
tough to say."
Either way, Davidson said that now Brewer is "following orders from the doctor
by the day. The leg with the sciatica issue is not 100 percent, but it's on
course. He does have time on his side."
The Blues report to training camp in mid-September and Davidson said, "We
expect him to be 100 percent. Honest to goodness, if you looked at our board on
the wall, with the depth chart, he's in there. That's what we're being told and
that's the route we're going."
Brewer, who has two years remaining on a four-year, $17 million contract, says
he will be back in a Blues uniform.
"There's never been the thought that I'm never going to play again," he said.
"I never had one doctor or one therapist tell me anything other than you'll be
playing. It's been a little bit longer than I would have liked, but that's
never been an issue. I've always been told, and I continue to be told, that
I'll be fine and I'll be playing hockey."