EL SEGUNDO, CA — After being placed on injured reserve, retroactive to December 11, due to an apparent concussion suffered in Toronto, it was a bit of a surprise to see center Colin Fraser back on the ice, skating with his teammates during practice on December 16.
“It was nice [to be back on the ice for practice],” said Fraser. “It hasn’t been that many days, but it’s long enough. I was feeling pretty good.”
“It didn’t look good on the ice, but for whatever reason, even the next night, and the next day, I felt no symptoms, really,” added Fraser. “But the [concussion] protocol and the safety, which is, obviously, a good thing—I’m not complaining. It just takes a little bit longer.”
Fraser talked about the hit that knocked him out of the game at Toronto, and onto the injured reserve list.
“It was scary, at the time,” Fraser noted. “It didn’t look too good when I was getting off the ice, even when I was watching the replay.”
“I remember everything,” Fraser added. “[Head coach] Darryl [Sutter] said that I got my bell rung. I definitely got my bell rung. But even going to bed that night, I felt pretty good, which is weird, because if you look at [defenseman Matt] Greene, he missed 18 games. It’s just weird how it goes.”
Fraser, who is 6-1, 190 pounds, was crunched by Maple Leafs’ 6-5, 230-pound left wing Frazer McLaren.
Do the math.
“Clean hit,” said Fraser. “Tough game. He’s 240 pounds. He outweighs me by fifty pounds. He’s probably going to outmuscle me, but I play the game hard. If I don’t go for that puck, I probably don’t play the rest of the game. It was just part of hockey. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Although Fraser was off by ten pounds, a 40-pound difference would have similar, if not the same, results on that play.
“I knew he was coming,” Fraser indicated. “I saw him the whole way. It was the old-fashioned, ‘take the hit to make the play. I know I’m going to get hit.’”
The way his head hit the ice may have saved Fraser from a more severe concussion.
“I hit my head straight on the boards, instead of taking it on the chin, and getting the whole jarring action,” he explained. “Then, your neck and everything’s involved. I just, straight up, hit my head, straight on.”
“If I’m a foot closer to the boards, I don’t bang my head on the boards,” he elaborated. “Maybe I go into the bench. I definitely [wouldn’t have banged] my head. That’s how close it really is.”
Fraser indicated that he has been increasing his activity over the past few days.
“I skated yesterday, by myself, in the morning, lightly,” he noted. “Nothing crazy. I rode the bike, two days prior. I rode the bike lightly, no symptoms. I rode it harder and worked out, no symptoms.”
“I’m good to go today,” he added. “I took my neuro-psych tests and passed everything.”
One always hears about the “baseline tests” that concussed players have to pass in order to return to action. But what does that test consist of?
“There were two different parts, twenty minutes [for one portion], and twenty minutes [for a second one],” said Fraser. “Word memory. They give you, I don’t know, 15 words, or whatever, and then, you repeat back the ones you remember. You do that three times. Then shapes—you have to draw them. That was all the written stuff. Then, there’s the computer test, which is the same concepts, only now, they’re on the computer. You have to remember the shapes, words, colors, letters.”
“Every couple of years, you’ve got to update it,” added Fraser. “Then, they compare the results to see how you’re doing.”
Given the role he plays, Fraser is fortunate that this was his first concussion.
“I’ve never had a concussion [before],” he noted. “Some guys are unlucky, and some guys are lucky. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Some guys heal quicker, and some don’t. It’s your brain, but they don’t even know. The experts don’t even know why.”
“It’s weird because I’ve been in a lot of fights, going back to junior, but I never had one like that,” he added. “I have been pretty lucky, considering that I’m not the biggest guy, and the way I try to play the game—trying to be physical, trying to be hard, sometimes fight. I’ve been pretty lucky.”
Greene Trying To Get Up To Speed
Greene returned to the lineup at Chicago on December 15, after missing, as Fraser indicated, 18 games due to an apparent concussion.
After practice on December 16, Greene spoke to reporters about his first game back.
“Just trying to get my game going,” said Greene. “That’s it. It’s good to get back in there, and feel it again. But there’s a long ways to go, and it’s got to happen soon.”
“You’ve got to get back up to speed,” added Greene. “It’s always tough coming back, but you’ve got to make the transition as fast as possible.”
Greene returned to play with a familiar partner on the blue line, defenseman Alec Martinez.
“He’s real easy to play with,” Greene noted. “He’s been playing great the last twenty games here. When he’s been in, he’s been playing really well, so he made it really easy on me.”
“He skates really well, and he moves the puck really well,” Greene added. “But that’s every guy on this team. I think everyone does a good job of playing with each other, and making life easy for their partner.”
“Everybody’s better with confidence. He’s feeling it right now. He’s looking good.”
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