Cheek back home in recovery mode

Vancouver native couldn't play against Winterhawks due to torn muscles

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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Throughout the Western Hockey League championship series, the Edmonton Oil Kings listed Trevor Cheek's status as day-to-day.

Month-to-month would have been more accurate for the Vancouver native, whose junior hockey career officially ended when the Portland Winterhawks defeated Edmonton in six games to win the WHL championship.

Three torn oblique muscles and a partially torn trapezius muscle suffered in Game 5 of the WHL's Eastern Conference finals denied Cheek the opportunity to play against the Winterhawks.

Now back with his family in Vancouver, Cheek is resting and doing what he can to rehabilitate. He said Edmonton medical people told him he would need at least two months to recover, while Colorado Avalanche personnel have indicated it could take longer.

Cheek — who in March signed an entry-level contract with Colorado — said he will travel to Denver soon for further evaluation, and then will have a better idea of what his summer has in store.

In three seasons in the WHL, Cheek scored 65 regular-season goals. This season he started with Calgary, was traded to the last-place Vancouver Giants, then traded again to the Oil Kings. This was his first WHL playoff experience, and he contributed eight goals and eight assists in 15 games before an awkward forecheck changed the course of his postseason.

Cheek said he was simply finishing a routine check during Game 5 of the conference finals, but knew immediately that something was wrong. He went directly to the locker room. He tried to return for Game 6, playing one shift, but the pain made it difficult to shoot the puck and contact a painful experience.

Three weeks after the injury, Cheek said it still hurts to sneeze or to twist certain ways. His workouts are limited to cycling and exercises designed to stabilize his injured midsection.

Knowing he couldn't contribute on the ice against the Winterhawks — a team he might have been a part of had Portland not been flush with 1992-born players when Cheek tried out as a 16-year-old — Cheek asked the Edmonton coaches if he could join them on the bench for Game 5 of the championship series with the Oil Kings facing elimination.

Cheek said he sensed his teammates needed a lift, trailing 3-1 in the series.

"It was very cool of them to let me do that," Cheek said.

His first game on the bench was a season-extending overtime win at Portland.

"That was one of the coolest things I have ever been involved in," Cheek said.

The next game wasn't as enjoyable. Cheek watched from the bench again as Portland pulled away to win Game 6 in Edmonton and clinch the WHL title.

"It was obviously hard to watch," Cheek said. "But I couldn't be more proud of my teammates and the effort they gave."