Brian Pothier just did a conference call with reporters from Atlanta. Here's some of what he had to say:
Q: What went through your mind when you were called up from Hershey?
A: It's been a long time coming. You can practice all you want, shoot as many pucks as you want. But as soon as you get someone skating in to get you, give you a hit and bump you and give pressure, things change. Getting on the plane today was just the next step in the process and obviously I'm really excited about it. I'm looking forward to playing real soon.
Q: Have you talked to Coach Bruce Boudreau about when you might get in?
A: I haven't. I played in Hershey last night and just drove back. I just got on the plane. I'm sure we'll sit down and chat real soon.
Q: Did you take any hard hits in Hershey?
A: Yeah. I actually had a few good collisions. I took a couple of big hits and gave a couple. I was real excited about it. I was relieved. You go in and you don't know what to expect. You haven't had a hit in a while, and when you do get hit, you realize that I'm not damaged goods, I'm not fragile and everything still works real well. Getting hit is part of hockey and once I took a hit, it was kind of refreshing. If you had some anxiety and fear about it, once you get that first hit, all of that sort of lifted. That first hit was out of the way, and now it's let the instincts take over and just play."
Q: Are you ready to play in an NHL game right now?
A: Yeah. I played four games in Hershey. Each game I got better. At that level, I felt like I was effective. I felt up to speed. Now the next step is to play in a National league game and get acclimated to that level. I'm hoping that happens real quick.
Q: Are you wearing contact lenses on the ice?
A: Yes. Glasses are a lot more effective than contacts because the eye is actually warped. Having glasses are a lot sharper. But wearing contacts is better than nothing. I have been wearing the [contacts] on the ice and it has helped me.
Q: When did you know that a comeback was possible?
A: Once I put the glasses on in [December] with Dr. Susan Durham [in North Carolina] she gave me a full two-hour exam, trying to figure out what exactly was going on. At the end of it, she sat me down at a computer screen and she had me look at the screen. The letters were kind of gray and pink and blurry. Then she put these glasses on, and I mean, it's hard to explain, but instantly, everything, even the letters changed colors. The letters turned crisp and dark. Instantly, all the pressure and headaches and tension in my head was gone. As soon as two days later, I was able to get on a bike and a couple of days after that I was able to skate. It progressed so quickly. I was so excited because I knew what she had found was the issue. At that moment, I knew that was it. Now it was just a matter of getting back into shape."
Q:Has anyone urged you not to come back?
A: Everyone has their opinion, but most people I've come across have been really excited. There are risks that are involved and some people have felt they need to talk about those risks a lot, and some people just have said, 'Hey, great, go for it.' There have been a bunch of different opinions, but mostly positive encouragement and everyone is really excited about it.
It's just something you can't think about it. You can't think, 'Oh my goodness, this could happen or that could happen.' Because, honestly, it could happen to anybody. Any injury could happen to any guy at any time. If I go out and play tentative, I'm opening myself up to more chance of injuries.
Q: Did you have to sign a waiver or anything?
A: No. It came down to I had a concussion last year. I developed an astigmatism in my eye. If you look back, the concussion resolved itself within two to three months and we were unable diagnose the astigmatism until December. That's the thing that was causing all of the headaches and all of disorientation and the lack of coordination. If you look at it that way, it's not a huge injury. Just because the length of time I was out, people have made this out to be catastrophic injury. But I don't think it's as big a deal as people are making it out to be.
I'm looking at it like this: the time off gave me more time to rest the actual concussion and I would say that I've been symptom-free for almost a year from my concussion. Plenty of time to rest. I feel like I'm as healthy as I've ever been and I'm in as good a shape as I've ever been because I've been skating so much."
Q: What's been your family's reaction to your return?
A: Everybody is fired up. My wife is really excited. It's been a long year and I'm sure she's just happy to get me out of the house. We're all excited.
I'll have a full story in tomorrow's Post (it will be on the web, sooner, however).