Gutting it out: Sullivan returns to Predators

Want to know the meaning of perseverance? Talk to Steve Sullivan.

The Nashville forward played on Saturday night in a 4-1 win over Chicago. It was Sullivan’s first action since Feb. 22, 2007 after missing 153 games due to a back injury that required two operations.

"I'm glad I'm getting a chance to do this again," Sullivan, a former member of the Blackhawks told the Chicago Tribune. "It might have been hard work, but being able to be here now made it worthwhile. You love to do this so much you never give up hope or give up the dream."

Sullivan was given a standing ovation when he made his first appearance 1:30 into the game.

"I was thrilled with the ovation," said Sullivan, who had three shots on goal in 12:30. "These are probably the best fans in the world. For them to wait for me and show me the respect they did was awesome."

Sullivan probably has many reasons to be grateful when it comes to his career. To say the deck has been stacked against him could be an understatement.

Born in northern Ontario’s nickel belt and undersized at 5-foot-9, Sullivan was a ninth-round draft pick selected 233rd overall by New Jersey in 1994. But starting with Toronto in 1998-99, Sullivan began a run of eight straight 20-goal seasons.

Sullivan’s best campaign came in 2000-01. Playing with Chicago, he finished with 34 goals – one of three Blackhawks with at least 30, joining Eric Daze (33) and Tony Amonte (35).

With 31 goals in 2005-06, Sullivan tied Paul Kariya for the Predators lead.

Sullivan turns 35 in July, and isn’t sure what the future holds for him because of the injury.

"It hasn't gotten much better in two years except I was able to strengthen everything around it," he said. "Is it going to get better? I'm not sure. There are a lot of people in the world who live daily with a bad back, and I don't think I'll be any different than they are."

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