Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Bozak set to return Wednesday, focused on getting back in lineup

Veteran center missed 21 games with a concussion, holds no 
grudge that supplementary discipline wasn't handed down to Stone

Tyler Bozak isn't focused on what's in the past but rather on what lies ahead.

That was the Blues veteran center's message on the eve of his return to the lineup after missing the past 21 games with what was a concussion.

Bozak was injured Jan. 26 at Vegas in the second period when he was hit blindsided by Mark Stone, fell backwards and hit his head on the ice and hasn't played since.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Tyler Bozak (21) will return to the lineup for the Blues Wednesday when
they face Los Angeles. Bozak missed 21 games with a concussion.

"Obviously got hurt, so wasn't pleased with it, but again, it's a fast game out there, stuff happens," Bozak said Tuesday. "That's in the past and my focus, our focus is winning hockey games. It's a shortened season. Every game counts. Every game is extremely important the rest of the way."

Stone received my supplementary discipline from the league's department of player safety.
"That's not my job to make those decisions," Bozak said. "They obviously have a lot of angles and a lot of ways they look at things. You've got to trust their decisions on those things. Whatever happens there is the decision they made, and I'm fine with it."

Bozak has two assists in seven games this season, and he had made initial progress a few weeks back when he skated but with a concussion, this isn't his first go with one of these, it's a tricky process.

"Concussions are weird," Bozak said. "I think the brunt of it, I hit my head on the ice so I think that was kind of the brunt of the injury there. It's one of those things. There's no timeline, no timetable. You kind of take it day by day. You have a good few days and start ramping up your workouts and skates. Then you might have a couple of bad days. With the research and everything that's been put into the brain and concussions, it's actually nice to kind of have kind of a guideline of when you're ready. Obviously it's not something that you can rush and get back from or you can definitely feel the effects of that later in life. I took my time, I made sure I was ready and did the process. The staff here was great with me and helped me get back. It can be frustrating at times. I've dealt with it before though. You know you just take it day by day, stay as positive as you can. There's always light at the end of the tunnel."

Being a husband and father to three, multiple concussions are not to be taken lightly, and this is the case for Bozak.

"Obviously you hear of all the horror stories of things that have happened to people who have dealt with concussions, but there's also tons and tons of people who have just recovered great and everything's fine," he said. "It's one of those things that happens. It's part of the game. The technology and our training staff and doctors now. Everybody is so much more aware and educated on these things that you know how to treat them and get yourself back ready and get back and kind of make sure you don't have those things later in life but yeah definitely when you do have young kids, a family, you think about that. You want to make sure that you don't come back too early and risk anything, especially with a head injury like that."

Bozak's return Wednesday is a line of players on the cusp of making it back into the lineup for a team that's been depleted with injuries throughout the season.

Jaden Schwartz (upper body) is doubtful to return Wednesday, but coach Craig Berube said Friday is more a likely return at San Jose. Also, Jacob de la Rose (lower body) is available to return, and Robert Thomas (broken thumb) has resumed skating and could be part of the team's next full practice.

"It's good to see all these guys getting close and some of them are ready to go tomorrow," Berube said. 

"It's been kind of a crazy year with injuries with our team, but we have a really deep team, a great system, a lot of young guys," Bozak said. "I think that's what makes us as good a team as we are. We have guys that can jump in and fill different roles and play different parts of the lineup when guys go down, especially on a shortened season like this. It's kind of inevitable there's going to be injuries throughout. I guess to take a positive out, it's better to happen now than later in the season. Try and take a positive out of everything and look at the bright side of things."

Berube said Bozak will return to the middle, likely centering the third line, and Bozak will hope to be himself right from the get-go.

"I hope so," Bozak said. "Obviously there will be a bit of an adjustment. No matter how much you skate or practice, once you get back in a game, it's obviously totally different. We did as much as we can to get ready. Obviously the legs and stuff, you skate hard and you feel ready, but there's nothing like a game. I'll try and be smart out there, keep my shifts short. Just try and play smart, I guess."

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