Post-concussion syndrome has sidelined forward
over 10 months; resumes light workouts, light ice time
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- It may not sound like much, but to David Perron, it's the first step to reclaiming what matters most in his life.
Perron, who has been out of the game since that crushing hit he took from San Jose's Joe Thornton on Nov. 4 that resulted in a concussion and ensuing post-concussion syndrome, begins the process of getting back into the Blues lineup by going through the standard NHLPA protocol of getting onto the ice.
Perron, who missed 72 games last season, will first go through the league-mandated baseline testing, which will be conducted at some point this week, then when he passes that, he'll go to the next step and work with the team's training staff. Perron then moves onto training in the exercise room and lastly, on the ice which would culminate a long and sometimes perplexing conclusion to this mysterious injury.
David Perron (57) has finally began the process of returning to the NHL.
The Blues' forward has resumed light exercising and skating, which Perron said started 3-4 weeks ago after consulting with Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the top concussion specialists in the country who practices in Boston. It's a small step but a giant leap compared to no news or change over the past several months.
While Perron is in the process of getting back onto the ice, there is no timetable for his return.
"The excitement of coming to the rink (Monday), I was probably more stressed than probably before my first NHL game," Perron said at Monday's press conference. "It's good to come here today at the rink. I'm looking forward to coming every day now and keep on progressing.
"It's good to be back in St. Louis and seeing all the guys before practice and meeting the new guys also. I'm just excited to drive back into St. Louis on the weekend with my two dogs and it was good to be back."
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong was alongside Perron when making the announcement that the Blues and their fans have been waiting for.
Perron's symptoms have been relatively smaller and more infrequent, which has led to the first steps taken.
"It's an exciting day for myself, but not probably nearly as exciting as it is for David Perron to be back here ... where he should be in the rink with his teammates.
"As we progress now, David is going to be back with us, but I want to stress he's back to Square One, and what Square One means is he's now going to have to follow the NHLPA guidelines of the protocol needed to get back on the ice. He'll have to get a baseline test here, administered sometime this week. When he passes that, he'll go to the next step with our training staff. Then he'll progress to training in the room, training in the exercise room and then training on the ice."
Perron admitted just how difficult passing the time has been and not being able to compete with his teammates.
"It's been tough. All summer, just following all the hockey news that was coming out, even last year coming to the Scottrade (Center) and not being able to play, it's not easy," he said. "But it's something you have to go through. If you keep looking at the positive and knowing where I am right now and I keep making progress, that's what the positive is and that's what you've got to look at."
Along with getting helpful advice from teammate Andy McDonald and Minnesota's Pierre-Marc Bouchard, both who know a thing or two about concussions.
"Just kind of sharing my experience with it," said McDonald, who missed 24 games last season with a concussion of his own. "I was fortunate to have some people talk to me when I went through it. It's kind of scary because sometimes there's not a lot of answers for him. There's no secret recipe that will help him get back quicker. So you just try and reassure him that what he's going through is kind of normal and that he's going to get better, he's going to get back on the ice and everything is going to be OK."
David Perron briefed the media Monday upon returning to
St. Louis. Perron has been out of hockey since suffering
a concussion last November.
Perron, who drove to St. Louis from his native Sherbrooke, Quebec (all 1,219 miles!), will begin the process immediately and at the necessary pace.
"You've got to listen to your body and listen to the people around you," Perron said. "Andy Mac has been really helpful in that situation. He's had a few concussions in his career. He's a guy that when I had a question, I'd go to him pretty much and ask him questions. It's pretty much what it is. There's nothing set in the ground on a certain date. It's not how this injury works."
Until he's ready and able to return, the team will continue to offer support and welcome Perron when the time is right.
"Well, it's just support. Until he's good, he's still got a ways to go," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "But a hockey player wants to be around hockey. So we'll support him in that situation. When he takes the next step and the next step, we'll continue to progress with him.
"Great to have him around, great to see him back. Still got a ways to go obviously, but he's one of us, so to see him back and see a smile on his face, it's a positive step."
Perron will continue to take the small steps necessary until one day, with the help of those monitoring his process, he will take THE step. The one that tells him to go full bore.
"I think towards the end, in my experience, there is a little bit of pushing through it," McDonald said. "I think David feels the same way. As far as I know he's not making a decision if he's going to play tomorrow. It's about getting back and being active again, getting on the ice, going through a routine, getting himself closer to being in shape. Then, making a decision at that point.
"There's also people there, support staff with the trainers and the doctors helping you along the way. In David's case, he's not by himself. There's a lot of people there that can watch over him and make sure that his health is not at risk of having another injury. Ultimately, I guess, it'll be his decision, but there are a lot of people there to bounce ideas off, evaluate him and give him a feel for it."
In the meantime, the Blues will be waiting ... as patiently as they have for the last 10 months.
"With this type of injury, David's going to tell us where he's at, and David's going to tell us when he's ready to progress to the next spot," Armstrong said. "We're here to listen, we're here to administer whatever care that needs to be given. ... We're going to push him, but only to the point where he's comfortable. I wish I could tell you that we expect him on the ice on this date, we expect him to put the jersey on for practice on this date and to play this date. That's not how these injuries are, how these returns happen. It's going to be based on his progression and how he feels on a day-to-day basis."
Said Perron, "We'll see when we start progressing again. I hate to say that, but that's what it is. I don't feel I'm that far off in terms of the strength, but at the same time, (being off) 9-10 months, there's going to be some strength to get back, endurance cardio and all that stuff. We'll see how it goes. It's just the beginning."