Cowen sustained a torn labrum while playing in the American Hockey League in October and underwent what was believed to be season-ending surgery in November. The original projection for his return was slated at six to eight months.
At the time, Cowen understood the reality of the situation, via the Ottawa Sun:
"I know what it's really like. Six months until I can play, a year until it feels close to normal."
However, he has made significant progress in his rehabilitation and was able to resume skating at the end of March. General manager Bryan Murray stated that Cowen's ability to practice didn't mean he was going to be able to return to the lineup.
Ultimately, the 22-year-old defenseman has surpassed expectations.
In 2011-12, Cowen averaged 18:53 of ice-time, which included an average of 3:08 on the penalty kill. He was the only Ottawa defenseman to play in all 82 regular season games.