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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bure Optimistic About Return

POMPANO BEACH, Florida -- Pavel Bure's surgically repaired knee is holding up through his first hockey action in six months, leaving the Florida Panthers star optimistic he'll be ready for the season opener.

The high-scoring right wing has been working out with about 20 other Russian players at an informal training camp scheduled to run through next week.

"Obviously I'm going to be a little rusty, but it feels pretty good," Bure said Tuesday. "I'm ahead of schedule."

Bure skated four times last month in brief sessions without equipment at the CSKA facility in Moscow. Now he's wearing pads and a helmet.

"The only way to do it is on the ice, one step at a time. It can't happen overnight," said Bure, who signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the Panthers in January, ending a lengthy contract dispute. But Bure's season came to an end March 3 after a hit by Colorado's Adam Foote led to season-ending knee surgery.

Three weeks later, the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee had to be rebuilt for the second time.

Bure, 28, completed 12 weeks of formal rehabilitation by the end of June, working out six days a week at the Cleveland Clinic.

The Panthers open training camp Sept. 3 in Hull, Quebec, with the season opener Oct. 2. Club president Bill Torrey has little doubt his franchise player will be available.

"I know what this guy is all about," Torrey said. "He'll be back, and he'll be every bit of the player he was before."