Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner will return for the team's game against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, less than a month after he sustained a high-ankle sprain.
The team had initially indicated the 22-year-old star would be sidelined for a minimum of four weeks after his injury, but Marner returned to practice on Monday, about one week earlier than expected.
Marner told reporters on Nov. 12 that he expected his ankle to "kind of be facing the wrong direction" when he heard a snap when the injury happened in a Nov. 9 game against the Philadelphia Flyers
“When I noticed that it wasn’t, I didn’t really know what the feeling was," he said via TSN. "I didn’t know what the result could have been, so I kind of had my mind open to anything.”
The injury itself came when he tripped over the stick of Philadelphia's Carsen Twarynsk in the second period Saturday and awkwardly twisted the ankle. He initially tried to skate off the ice but appeared unable to put weight on his right leg. He eventually dragged himself to the bench on his hands and knees.
Marner falls awkwardly and slowly slides his way to the Leafs bench. pic.twitter.com/PjwVTvx5yO
— Flintor (@TheFlintor) November 10, 2019
Marner briefly returned to the ice during a TV timeout to test the ankle, but he said the team's trainers recognized he was "in an uncomfortable situation" and told him to leave the game.
Marner has scored 18 points (four goals, team-high 14 assists) in 18 games this season. While the Leafs ultimately lost that Nov. 9 matchup against the Flyers 3-2, the winger had on Nov. 12 that he viewed his recovery time as an opportunity to come back stronger than before.
“Looking back at the video, seeing the photos, it could have been a lot worse than what actually happened,” Marner said. “You always have to look at the bright side and now it’s something where I can get in that gym, get stronger and try to make my shot better when I get back.”