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Zach Whitecloud Explains Hardest Part Of Returning From Lengthy Injury

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Zach Whitecloud is having the best season of his young NHL career. He’s already exceeded his career-high in points, he’s playing a much larger role both at five-on-five and on the penalty kill, and advanced offensive metrics have him up there with some of the best defensemen in the league.

This is, of course, when he’s been able to be on the ice.

Whitecloud has suffered two fairly serious injuries this year. His first came in late October when he blocked a shot with his wrist. That one kept him sidelined for just about a month. He was then having a run of success when he suffered a broken foot which kept him out for another four weeks.

Speaking today with the media, Whitecloud shared a bit about what it’s like to be out of the lineup for a while and then be thrust right back into NHL games. Interestingly, the toughest part for him when returning to play isn’t anything physical.

When you are out for three weeks, a month, you are not used to having those fast pace motions in your life. You don’t have those types of stimulus coming in. We are used to things coming at us fast and reacting and getting hit while making plays. We’re trying to think about making a play while also thinking about three other things. When you don’t have that in your life it takes a little while to get it going again. -Whitecloud

Whitecloud said you can’t mimic this type of test on the brain in practice and for him, it takes a number of live reps to get comfortable with making these quick reads again.

It’s not that you are squeezing your stick too tight or that you are nervous, you just don’t have that stimulus in your life. -Whitecloud

Part of the reason we all love hockey is the speed of the game. There’s simply no other sport like it and in many ways, there aren’t many things in life that require the pace of brain activity that hockey does. So, it’s really no surprise that when a player goes from the methodical process of rehabbing an injury to making reads and taking hits in an NHL game, it takes a while for their minds to catch back up.

Part of that is keeping the game simple. Making it easy on yourself, making it easy on your teammates by making simple plays and not overcomplicating it because you can put yourself in some bad spots. -Whitecloud

With the Golden Knights experiencing so many injuries this season, this is sure to be something to keep an eye on as each one returns from injury. Most of us focus on the physical aspect of the game when players come back, but according to a guy who has been through it multiple times this season, maybe we should be more focused on their minds, and more specifically, decision making.



Next Podcast #261: The Blame Game


  1. Daryl

    I completely agree with everything Whitecloud says…. He says it takes se eral live reps to get back into things. That should translate into only a couple games for a veteran player, which Whitecloud is close enough to. Anything over 5 games, I think it just becomes an excuse

  2. THE hockey GOD

    He confirms what I said consistently, he’s talking about timing and speed of game. And it not only impacts players coming off injury, but in similar fashion to players coming back after a lay off, a lull in schedule, and lack of consistent frequent repetitive play which hones not only your ability to play the game at high level. But also the conditioning aspect of game. You can not get game ready in practice rink, no matter what their Russian coach says or does.

    Hockey is a like baseball in timing aspect.

    It’s not a marginalization, or PBD’s fault, or front office fault as many “unsophisticated” goober/gomer Mayberry RFD lame posters are quick to post. THat judgement call is flawed. It is just an element of game that is FACT.

    • Daryl

      Too much time off, not enough time off, back-to-back games…. I hear nothing but excuses

      • THE hockey GOD

        learn to read Gomer, or is it Goober. Hey they invented shoes over 1000 years ago. WAke up moe !

    • Wow, you’re throwing bombs all over the place without regard to the topic being discussed. How about a little focus. Are you that butt hurt over the fact that some of us don’t view the VGK FO moves or the Coach in a good light?

      Well, that’s tough. Your little rants and name calling “goober/gomer” comments are indicative of a child keyboard warrior. Nonsense. Grow up.

      • THE hockey GOD

        no, RR my post is in regard to my stalker, so mind your own business.

  3. Tyler Durden

    Where’s the daily white grievance post?
    Don’t worry white snowflakes, black history month is over today.

    • Blitz

      There was one?


    • I actually don’t care how many “history months, weeks or days” there are. Every race and culture is more than welcome to it. As an old white boomer guy I have no problem with it. In fact I celebrate it. My best friend is black and his wife is Filipino and speaks fluent Tag. The idea that we have to focus in on the color of our skin is completely against what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for. But, celebrating it? I have no problem with that Tyler. I believe in it. This isn’t a grievance post, it’s a post of my own personal opinions on the racial divide that is crushing the unity of the American people. It takes the breath out of me, it’s sad and completely un-American.

      • THE hockey GOD

        you are being “culture canceled” and you don’t even know it.

        critical race theory rages all around , against you; and you are clueless about it.

        that is sad.

        • You completely missed my point. I oppose this CRT stuff. It is exactly what I said is the opposite of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a society that treats everyone equally. CRT is the very essence of racism itself and all it does is continue to divide us along those lines.

        • STEPHANIE

          Ughhh you

      • RR: How very….rational, reasonable, understanding, mature of you,! I, too, try to accept everyone, warts and all–mine included. I appreciate other open-minded, accepting human beings(which we ALL are, WARTS AND ALL!!) Thanks for saying so…

    • knights fan in minny

      thank god malt liquor for all

  4. THE hockey GOD

    Russia thrown out of World Cup as FIFA and UEFA ban country over Ukraine invasion

    FIFA and UEFA have moved to ban Russian clubs and its national teams from footballing competition following Russia’s attacks on Ukraine ordered by president Vladimir Putin

  5. Speaking of injuries, the latest from Jesse Granger over at The Athletic:

    “Through an optimistic lens, the Golden Knights are near the league average, or slightly above it, in most metrics while dealing with the most injuries in the league. Hockey history is littered with examples of ultra-talented teams that went off the rails due to injuries. Coach Peter DeBoer and his staff deserve a ton of credit for holding things together and keeping the Golden Knights within striking distance through it all.”

    “It has been (a challenge),” DeBoer said Monday. “I’ve never been in the top two or three teams for man games lost in a year, and I have a new appreciation for what that’s like. It’s really tough to deal with. It can be devastating. Thankfully for our group, it hasn’t been, and we’re right in the thick of things at the right time of year here.”

    • Daryl

      During the last game, they said VGK was 5th in games lost due to injury…. I’d just say it’s a blessing playing in the Pacific

    • Thanks PP, I heard part of his speech and he also went on to say we have been play mostly with NHL players for a while now and the time for excuses is over.

  6. There hasn’t been a lot of love given to Zach since his arrival on the big club. Lots of negativity. For me, he has improved tremendously and has nothing but upside ahead of him. Is he a top defense line #1 guy? No, but his upside is good and he’s earned a place on the roster. I’d like to see a bit more toughness and overall improvement with his defense. He’s a keeper for the cost.

    • Blitz

      I can honestly say I don’t remember any negativity to whitecloud, maybe other than toughness. He did get the embarrassing bad side of the kaprizov tangle, but for the most part it is all upside with him. He’s still young, but is a good defender and I think he is adding more offense to his game. Plays strong, and his cap, while going up, is still affordable for what we get. He could use more toughness in tussles. Interesting that most of the indigenous canadian players I watched in the WHL were tough and mean as hell, but clearly he is here and they are not. Jordin Tootoo was skilled and tough as hell. Little guy but would take on any body. I am guessing Inuit and “Sioux Valley Dakota Nation” are probably like pacific islander and Chinese from each, because I don’t know shit about canada (and don’t really care). I do like whitecloud though. Earns his keep.

      • Daryl

        I’ve always liked Whitecloud. He made a lot of little mistakes when he was younger, though most probably wouldn’t have noticed them. I only wish he would play more physical.


      Really ? Ive not heard any negative on whitecloud

  7. The world should not be punishing the Russian people. They are not complicit in their dictators insane militarism. Neither Putin or those who support him are going to be harmed by sanctions, only the people.

    Also, China – who we send billions of dollars to – is filling the void that we are creating. We have the dumbest leaders in all of mankind’s history to think that we can spread freedom by sending billions to dictators (China/US trade and EU purchasing of oil and gas from Russia).

    Dictators cannot be placated. The idiots in Europe and the USA thought that over time Russia and China would look more like us than brutal dictatorships if we opened up our markets to them.

    Well, Ukraine is reaping the results of that folly.

    The way to sanction these dictators is by finding ways to hurt them, not their people. We’ve been harming the people of Iran for decades, yet the dictators remain firmly in place there.

    It is very sad to see the hard lessons of the last century not learned. This time you have a complete madman with nuclear weapons and he apparently has no issue contemplating their use.

    • THE hockey GOD

      Most of the Russian people I know (90% are making excuses for their cult hero Putin, and doing nothing about it. They share the blame for sitting on their hands. Just
      like the Germans did when Hitler was in power and did nothing about it.

      The other 10% I know are getting wasted on vodka and can not deal with the truth.

      • Daryl

        Kind of like you blaming every goal RL let’s in on the defense lol

  8. THE hockey GOD


    The overwhelming message coming from DeBoer and the players this morning is that they like where their game is heading, thought they played really well vs COL despite the loss, and if that continues they’ll win games.

    Twitter ** probably won’t like this, but I agree with them.

    **and most of negative nillies here, I agree with this too, like I said MARCH will be the turning point for this season. If not, HEADS WILL ROLL – per Major Hofsetter.
    And he will point to coGMGM and say ‘WHAT IS THIS MAN DOING HERE?”

    Until then I remain cautiously optimistic. With all the shit the team had to go through this season there should be no pressure on them from the posters/fans wishing the whole organization ill will.

    • That’s fair. It’s 1 March and they have until 31 March to prove that the moves were legit as well as the coaching.

      As for the goaltending, I gave up on that in January. We do not have a goaltender that can be counted on to carry this team, which cannot defend. When you have to score 4 or more goals on average to beat the better teams, that is a major hole that needs filling.

      I still think there is potential for VGK FO to go out and get an upgrade between the pipes. They have some pieces available to trade beginning with Smith. At this point, maybe you package Martinez in on that deal along with Koleslaw and Patrick.

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