by Bruce Strand, Sport editor
Nick Jensen, the former Rogers and St. Cloud State hockey star, was supposed to have started his pro career by now.
Instead, the 23-year-old defenseman, signed in May by the Detroit Red Wings, has been rehabilitating since July for a shoulder injury suffered in a fight the first day of development camp in July.
“I got cleared to start skating, three weeks ago,” said Jensen, contacted Monday by the Star News. “I’m supposed to get an MRI in mid-November when I could be cleared to start playing.”
Jensen was a first-team All-American as a junior this past season, helping the Huskies reach their first-ever Frozen Four, and is regarded as a solid prospect. He was a fifth-round draft pick in 2009.
When his rehab is done, Jensen will join the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Griffins, Detroit’s affiliate in the American Hockey League. He’s living in Grand Rapids.
The fight was initiated by Tyler Bertuzzi, an 18-year-old in his first developmental camp, according to accounts in the St. Cloud Times and two fan web sites, The Malik Report and Winging It In Motown.
Jensen, participating in his fifth development camp, told the Times in September that he wasn’t looking for a fight and they seldom happen in development camps.
“I think he was trying to prove something to the coaches and was giving me some cheap shots,” Jensen said in that article, adding that Bertuzzi was known as an “agitator guy.” Bertuzzi had 185 penalty minutes in 105 games in the Ontario Hockey League.
Asked by the Star News if he was angry about this turn of events, Jensen said, “At first, I was not very happy about it. Nobody would be happy about missing four to six months. But I had to get over it, and be positive. My doctors have been working on it and I’m real happy with my recovery.”
Jensen was an all-conference player in grades 9-10-11 at Rogers, then played two seasons for Green Bay in the USHL and three at St. Cloud State, where he majors in finance. He passed up his senior year with the Huskies to sign a two-year, entry-level deal May 2.
The fight occurred July 11 during a cross ice drill, according to the Winging It in Motown web site blogger, who reported that Bertuzzi, miffed after Jensen tied him up to the side of the net, took overly aggressive action against him twice as the drill continued, after which word were exchanged and finally the gloves camp off and punches were thrown.