The inclination to play through pain and rush back from injury is part of the DNA of NHL players like Sheldon Souray, so it’s no surprise he’s eager to get back in the Edmonton Oilers line-up.
The good new for Oilers fans is that Souray, out since the third game of the season with a concussion after being ridden into the end boards by Jarome Iginla, has taken a step towards a return. He’s skated on his own the past two days and says he feels fine.
The reality of the situation, though, is that Souray can’t say for certain when he’ll be back in the line–up, even though he hopes to be feeling well enough to join the team on an upcoming five-game road trip — not to play, but to get back into the routine of morning skates and practices.
As badly as the Oilers have missed him, Souray’s been around long enough to know he can’t rush it, and that his brain will tell him when he’s ready to play again, not the other way around.
Patience is prudent approach, even after a month of watching Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov flail around without the big man with the booming slapshot on the back end.
"I feel OK," Souray told assembled reporters today at Rexall Place after the Oilers morning skate in preparation for tonight’s game with the New York Rangers.
"Its nice to get out there and skate a little bit and get workouts back in there. It’s been a long few weeks of a holding pattern, of waiting to get better. It’s nice to see some progress."
"Some progress," for those familiar with concussions, doesn’t guarantee anything in terms of a return date. Souray could improve over the next few days to the point where he does join the team on the road.
Souray could improve to the point where he joins the team and then ups the intensity of workouts to include full drills and then even some contact. He could be back in the line-up within two weeks.
Or, as history has shown, Souray could wake up tomorrow morning feeling sick, dizzy and disoriented. There is no straight-line recovery time like with a broken bone or a torn-up hamstring.
"I guess the most frustrating is that there is no timetable," Souray said. "Most injuries I’ve had before, you’re out for six weeks, you come back in six weeks, or thereabouts.
"This has been something you deal with day-to-day. It’s in your head, too. It’s not like something that’s your shoulder and you can feel it. It’s in your head.
"So it’s been a bit of a frustrating injury, more so than any other physical injury I’ve ever had."
In to stay
As much as Oilers fans would like to see Souray back as soon as possible, and understandably so, a brain injury, which is what a concussion is, isn’t something you can gut out and play through.
Jarret Stoll tried it a few seasons back after being pitched into the boards by Sammy Pahlsson and had his season ended in a subsequent game against the Vancouver Canucks by nothing more than incidental contact.
Paul Comrie, you might remember, suffered a concussion in a game with the Hamilton Bulldogs after starting the season with the Oilers. Comrie felt well enough to finish the game, and did. He never played again.
"You can’t say you’re close or you’re far," Souray said. "Guys come back too early and have setbacks.
"We’re trying to handle this the right way and make sure that when I do come back I’m not coming back for one game and it being over. I’ll come back when I feel 100 per cent."
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.