The Silvertips were greeted by a familiar face when they took the ice for practice today as head coach Craig Hartsburg was on the ice for the first time since undergoing heart surgery. Hartsburg had been running practices from the bench, but today he was back in the middle of the fray. The players seemed to respond as it was a good, spirited practice. This was the last step back for Hartsburg, who is now back to his full capacities. His heart has been fine for a while, and he returned to the bench for games last weekend. But his sternum, which was cracked open for the surgery, needed to fully heal in order to resume skating during practice. It’s almost exactly two months to the day since Hartsburg underwent the surgery. Pretty remarkable how quickly one can recover from heart surgery these days.
Hartsburg had a skeleton crew to work with at practice today as just 17 players took part. Tyler Maxwell returned after sitting out Saturday’s game because of illness. However, Rasmus Rissanen (World Juniors), Nick Walters (U-17s) and Jari Erricson (U-17s) are still on international duty — they finish up today and should be back in Everett on Wednesday. Chad Suer (jaw) and Campbell Elynuik (shoulder) remain long-term injury victims, and Tyler Giebel and Manraj Hayer were also on the sidelines today nursing minor upper-body injuries. Also, Gabe Minville, Ryan Chynoweth and Tye Hand have been returned to their teams, though Kieran Friesen will remain with the Tips for the time being.