P.K. Subban is back in the Montreal Canadiens' fold but the team wouldn't confirm he'll play Saturday afternoon against the Buffalo Sabres.
The defenceman missed training camp and the first six games of the NHL regular season while negotiating a new two-year contract. He received a crash course in new coach Michel Therrien's system Friday in practice.
"You can practise game situations but being in a game is different," said Therrien. "You can't just say 'He's a good athlete, let's throw him out there.' It doesn't happen like that.
"We'll make the decision on what's best for the team and what's best for the return of a defenceman."
The Canadiens play two afternoon games at home on the weekend against Buffalo and Ottawa.
Subban skated on the third defence pair with Francis Bouillon, which was also the pairing for the second power-play unit.
It looked like he was being prepared to play, but Therrien said that decision would be made later Friday or Saturday morning.
"I'm just anxious to get back on the ice, get back with the team and start things up again," said 23-year-old Subban.
The flashy defenceman's first job will be adapting to a new regime that puts team ideas ahead of individual skill.
Price, Subban put signature move on ice
Already, goalie Carey Price said the post-victory triple-low-five celebrations he used to do with Subban have been banned. Only team celebrations are now tolerated. The Canadiens this season skate to centre ice after wins and raise their sticks to the fans.
"It's a team concept," said Therrien of the team rule. "You have to respect the game, the other team and the fans.
"The way we decided to celebrate this year is to salute the fans because they deserve it."
There was a surprise appearance from left-winger Max Pacioretty, who skated a full practice, with wind sprints at the end only six days after having an emergency appendectomy. He was expected to be out three-to-four weeks, but it appears he will make an earlier return.
He isn't expected to play this weekend but doesn't look to be far off of a return.
"The doctor told me I can't really make it any worse and it's part of my competitive nature to go out and push it as far as I can, so when I'm playing I'll be ready," said Pacioretty.
When asked when he will be back, Pacioretty said: "It's hard to tell. I don't know. If it were my choice, I'd play tomorrow."