It's good to hear that Jarrod Maidens is back on the ice and scrimmaging, having taken part in a development camp for Ottawa Senators prospects, and now returned to the Owen Sound Attack. Maidens was cleared for practice earlier in the summer and provides Attack head coach Greg Ireland will a somewhat familiar face this fall.
Maidens suffered a concussion in November of 2012 and he has yet to see any game action since then, having sat out the entire 2013 season. He was cleared for contact to practice with both his old Ontario Hockey League team, as well as the National Hockey League team that drafted him in the 3rd round of 2012 despite the post-concussion issues. Apparently, he's looked very good in the early days of Owen Sound's practices.
"We're getting a top-notch player and it's just going to be a matter of time before he's into that mode," Attack general manager Dale DeGray said.
"He came to camp in really good shape and he's leading things. It's been a long time and he's been waiting for it. I'm glad he's here and I'm glad he's ready to go."And ready to be physical as he was checking hard in the scrimmages.
"I've been throwing the body and not being shy," said Maidens. "If I'm going to get back into this I'm going to play a hard game. This is good to test it out so that's why I want to throw the body around." [Sun Times]
The name is familiar to OHL fans. Maidens had a very promising young career that was derailed nearly two years ago after taking a freak knee-to-the-head in a game against Barrie. The injury kept him off the ice for over a year and he only got back onto the ice last January. Maidens was selected 4th overall in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection, and capped off his rookie year by scoring the goal that clinched the Attack their first ever J. Ross Robertson Cup in Owen Sound, in overtime Game 7 of the OHL Championship series against Mississauga.
Despite the early success, Maidens scored just 21 points in 47 games—well down the list of top scoring OHL rookies that season—as the Attack iced a championship roster with big-name forwards like Garrett Wilson, Andrew Shaw, Andrew Fritsch, and Joey Hishon, who has had his own concussion issues dating back to 2011 as well (though Hishon did make his pro debut in the spring). In his second year after the graduation of Wilson, Shaw and Fritsch, Maidens scored 12 goals and 23 points in 28 games and was well on his way to an excellent sophomore season before his injury.
Bill Walker at the Owen Sound Sun Times makes it clear that while Maidens may be back on the ice taking part in scrimmage and contact drills, there's still a barrier he needs to beat when it comes to being on the receiving end of contact, and notes that his conditioning and stick skills aren't as sharp as they were pre-concussion. That's upsetting, but excusable for a player in his situation.
Then there's the comfort level the Attack have as well, although their next moves could be dictated by the actions of the Ottawa Senators, the team that took the risk on Maidens in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft. Maidens is listed on the Sens' rookie camp roster that begins next week with a prospect tournament at Budweiser Gardens in London, which could be Maidens' first game action in more than a year. The Attack have two exhibition games scheduled for Sunday and Monday (a home and home with the Colts) so it depends on the team's comfort level as they track him through the weekend. Surely Maidens' name isn't on the chopping block, but seeing him this weekend would be their first chance to test him in a contest until the Senators get him back for their proper training camp that begins on September 11. The Attack's last pre-season game is on the 14th.
There are a lot of issues to stamp out before Maidens gets back into game action, theoretically, but at least he's back on the ice and practicing with the game around him at full speed, even if he isn't. He at least has a very full schedule in the next couple of weeks to keep himself occupied, and this is a big development year for him as he attempts to regain his playmaking abilities and on-ice instincts from before the collision.