WILMINGTON – While the odds of it happening were slim at best, the Bruins officially announced there was zero chance that Nathan Horton might return at some point in the 2012 playoffs.
|Andrew Ference (right) congratulates Nathan Horton after his overtime goal against the Canadiens during Game 5 of last year's playoff series. (Getty)|
General manager Peter Chiarelli spoke with the media on Wednesday about the decision.
“We felt it just wasn’t in the long-term interest of Nathan to be having the specter hanging over him of trying to come back during this playoff season,” the GM said. “He’s made one step forward, and then two steps back and we just made the determination, upon consultation with our doctors, with Nathan, that it would be prudent to shut him down for the playoffs and continue to rehab for next year.”
Chiarelli said Horton experienced another wave of post-concussion symptoms after skating last week.
“What happened in general was that he’d be tracking, he’d be improving and then he’d have some symptoms,” Chiarelli said. “They weren’t huge symptoms, but they’d always come up at some point after three, four, five or six days of positive stuff. It was a frustrating exercise for Nathan, it was a frustrating exercise for us because we’ve been through this rehab before with players.
“I’ve seen all kinds of rehab patterns now because usually you can see when the player has color, and when he’s animated, you think he’s turned the corner and then they have a bout of post-concussion symptoms and they manifest themselves in different ways. With Nathan, sometimes it’d be just a fogginess, sometimes he wouldn’t feel right and sometimes there’d be a big headache. But it was always after three, four or five days of positive progress.”
David Krejci, who has centered Horton for most of the winger’s tenure in Boston, wishes he could’ve had the high-scoring forward riding shotgun alongside him for another playoff run, but he certainly understands how delicately concussions must be treated.
“I was hoping he was going to be back for first, second round, who knows, but now we know he won’t,” Krejci said. “It kind of sucks, but that’s how it goes sometimes. This is still his life and he’s got to take care of his own body. He’s been pushing it, and if it doesn’t feel well there’s nothing he can do. I had a concussion two times so I know how it is. This is not an easy situation. Hopefully he is going to do well the next couple months and he’s going to be ready for next season.”
While the Bruins have found a way to get by without Horton, who suffered the concussion on Jan. 22 in Philadelphia, there’s no denying what an incredible impact he had on their postseason success a year ago. The 26-year-old forward had eight goals and nine assists in 21 contests, thriving in his first trip to the playoffs in his NHL career. Three of Horton’s tallies were of the game-winning variety, including an overtime strike in Game 7 against Montreal in the first round and the only tally in a 1-0 win over the Lightning in the decisive seventh game of the conference finals.
“We’ve dealt with more than two and a half months without Nathan Horton, who is such a great player in this league,” linemate and close friend Milan Lucic said. “We’ve managed without him and that’s definitely a confident thing for us. But then saying that, he’s going to be sorely missed.”