The prospect of sitting out the Red Deer Rebels’ final game of the season probably never occurred to Landon Ferraro, but that’s exactly what transpired Thursday.
The third-year centre, along with winger Andrej Kudrna — two of the team’s ‘go-to’ players — were scratched from the Red Deer lineup and didn’t play in the 5-2 WHL Eastern Conference quarter-final loss to the visiting Saskatoon Blades.
“It was really disappointing. I was looking forward to trying to help us get a win,” Ferraro said Friday. “But it was Jesse’s decision and that’s what he made, so I don’t have too much else to say about that.”
Ferraro was referring to head coach Jesse Wallin, who following a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 3 of the best-of-seven set Wednesday, said he needed more from the team’s elite forwards.
The Detroit Red Wings’ prospect stopped short of suggesting he didn’t deserve the snub, but didn’t feel he was the club’s worst player through the first three post-season contests.
“I thought I was playing pretty well. I honestly don’t know what to say. It was his (Wallin’s) decision and he thought that was the best thing for the team,” said Ferraro. “I just have to respect that and move on.”
Statistically speaking, Ferraro took a step backward in his third campaign, scoring 16 goals and collecting 46 points in 53 games after sniping 37 goals as a WHL sophomore.
He admitted he never fully recovered from an early-season knee injury which caused him to miss in the neighbourhood of 20 games.
“I have good and bad days. Some days I wake up and I feel as strong as I did in the summer when I was working out,” he said. “And then the next day I’ll feel like I’m skating on one leg.
“I think I did the best that I could. I tried to do the best I could, but some games it was there and some games it wasn’t. It’s disappointing, but I’m just excited about getting my strength back (during the off-season) and getting back to what I can be.”
Ferraro will head home to Vancouver in short order and will commence training after taking a short break.
“I’m looking forward to going home, taking a little time off and just getting my strength back,” he said. “I want to come back next season with the same knee strength I had for the first game and a half of this season. I know I won’t be losing as many battles, I’ll be stronger on the puck and I’ll just be in better shape. It’s been a hard year, but I’m excited to kind of get moving and coming back stronger than ever next fall.”
The 2010-11 WHL campaign will be huge for Ferraro, who will be attempting to earn a contract with Detroit, which selected him in the second round of last year’s NHL entry draft.
“I’ll not only be playing for a contract, but I’ll be trying to help this team continue to move forward,” he said. “The team how come a long way and going into next year we’ll have the core of the group back and some new players coming in who are really going to help us.
“We should have a team that finishes near the top of our conference and hopefully it will be a long season.”