Forward back on ice Monday after suffering head injury in Philadelphia
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- This time, the Blues dodged a bullet.
When former Blue and 6-foot-6, 220-pound Chris Pronger delivered a crushing shoulder to shoulder hit that saw the 6-3, 225-pound Backes go crashing down, his head thrust hard off the ice, many around Blues Nation felt the worst. As if the 'C' word hadn't ravaged this lineup enough already.
And we're not talking about 'C' as in captain either.
But Backes, who felt better Sunday, was back on the ice Monday morning with his teammates at St. Louis Mills. He fully participated in practice and deemed himself ready to go when the Blues begin a Western Canada road swing that starts Wednesday night in Vancouver.
The Blues dodged a bullet with David Backes, who left midway through
Saturday's game in Philadelphia with a head injury. Backes was back on
the ice Monday and is deemed ready to play Wednesday in Vancouver.
"I don't really see him coming, I don't get to brace myself," Backes said of Pronger. "He hits me very clean, shoulder to shoulder. There's enough force in there where I'm not really braced for it, and I'm not feeling perfectly fine to go back in the game.
"We err on the side of caution and let everything rest up. I felt really good today and we're ready for the game against Vancouver."
The Blues have already lost Andy McDonald and Carlo Colaiacoovo -- who has since returned -- to concussions this season. B.J. Crombeen is still sidelined with a fractured left shoulder and David Perron (post-concussion syndrome) continues to recover but has been a regular participant at practice in the last week.
So the sight of Backes on the ice Monday was a sight that the Blues and their fans were hoping for.
"Not having a ton of history with it, I don't know when you're in the free and clear, if you ever are," said Backes, who indicated having two prior concussions before playing in the NHL. "Just the overall evolution of after the hit, there's some symptoms. They subside rather quickly after that. Things are trending in the right direction.
"(Pronger) plays hard. I knew he was on the ice. I didn't think he was going to be in that spot as quick as he was. All's well that ends well. We'll take the two points out of that game. If he gets a little satisfaction knocking me out of the game, then he can have that."
But when Backes lay motionless for a moment on the ice, he was eventually aided by head athletic trainer Ray Barile. Players didn't get a good vibe.
"Especially a guy like Backs," winger Matt D'Agostini said. "He doesn't lay on the ice very often.
"We knew it was serious. It was scary for sure when you see his head get hit and then he hits his head on the ice again. You always fear the worst. With what we've gone through professionally, it's disheartening. But he was out there today ... he looks good."
Said Blues coach Davis Payne, "Yeah, it was a big hit, a big collision, two big bodies, but definitely good to see him back out there this morning. It was two big guys going to a tough area. You don't necessarily see every defenseman in the world willing to take on that kind of guy coming to your net in that fashion. Two big bodies playing the game the right way."
Backes flew home with the team after the game in Philadelphia and felt "better" on Sunday, well enough that he was able to get back onto the ice as quickly as he did.
When McDonald suffered his concussion on Oct. 13 at Dallas, he returned to the game and played the third period. This time, the Blues felt it was best to play it safe and keep their captain out.
"With something that's with your head or with your neck or something that potentially could have lasting effects, spend that time to recover," Backes said. "Make sure you're evaluated properly, give yourself the rest of that game to heal. You can check it out the next day.
"I think that's imperative to not only safety -- you take that period and a half off -- the team takes care of the job and get the win in Philly. I don't have to risk further injury by going out there if it is something that is severe. Now I'm back in the lineup for the game against Vancouver. Things seem to be shaping up fine."