Michigan's Lockwood Hopes to Shoulder the Load
In December of 2016, Will Lockwood was skating near the boards with one of his teammates. A Badger was following them closely and, about four feet away from the boards, pushed Lockwood. Flying at the boards at an awkward angle, Lockwood assumed he would meet them head on. He threw up his left arm to protect his head and neck.
It worked, taking away the force from his head and neck. But it left the Michigan freshman with a separated shoulder.
“I didn’t really know what to think. I didn’t really know what a separated shoulder ever felt like. … I didn’t know until I took my shoulder pads off and saw my shoulder was out of place,” Lockwood said.
After the initial injury, Lockwood returned and played throughout the season. He finished the year with 20 points in 30 games, which ranked second on the team.
“Playing with a separated shoulder actually doesn’t cause any pain,” Lockwood said.
It doesn’t hurt, unless it pops back out of place, which is more likely to happen without surgery. Lockwood reinjured his shoulder a couple of times and missed a total of five games. At the end of the season, he decided on surgery and spent his offseason rehabbing.
“He looks good. He’s, I would say, 90 percent, 85-90 percent. He participates in all the drills. There’s limited content on a couple drills but they just want to give him some extra time,” Michigan head coach Mel Pearson said.
His recovery stint included rehabbing three times a week. Initially his rehab focused on getting motion back, followed by getting strength back to normal and finally increasing that strength.
While rehabbing in the offseason, Lockwood attended both Canucks rookie camp and the World Junior Summer Showcase, but was unable to play at either. He instead spent time observing and reconnecting with familiar faces.
“He’s a skilled player, he plays hard, he’s quick, he’s explosive,” Pearson said. “We need him healthy and we need him to have a good year. And here he is only a sophomore and we’re putting that on him but he looks good. He looks good and he’ll be ready to go.”
Lockwood, the son of former Michigan forward Joe, was named the team’s most valuable player and top rookie. While his point total last season was modest, the Wolverines are expecting — and need — a higher contribution.
“I expect him to take another step forward, absolutely,” Pearson said. “Your first year you’re never quite sure how you’re going to do and he had a good year. The important thing is now that he has that experience or that understanding of what it takes because he’s got the skill and he plays the game the right way so I expect him to take another step forward. And he’s going to need some help obviously from people around him but ... knowing Will and knowing how he approaches the game and his work ethic and everything, he’s given himself a chance to have a better year this year.”
While there’s always a possibility of Lockwood reinjuring his shoulder, the thought hasn’t made him hesitate much.
“I think that’s always something in the back of your head but [you have to] forget about that and move on. Now it’s repaired,” Lockwood said.