[dropcap]T[/dropcap]onight, for the first time in nearly 12 months, Nathan Horton will strap on his pads, pull on his Bruins jersey and head out onto the TD Garden ice for a game without any health limitations. Sure, it’s only an exhibition game versus the Providence Bruins, but it’s a start.
It’s been almost a full calendar year since Horton suffered his second concussion in a seven-month span last January and Bruins fans haven’t seen much of him since.
But now Horton is 100%, not experiencing any post-concussion symptoms, and has been able to participate in contact drills during the first two days of training camp, preparing for what he hopes will be a healthy 2013 campaign.
“I’m not even thinking about it, if I get hit,” Horton said after Monday’s Bruins practice. “It doesn’t bother me.”
Horton’s last concussion came on January 22, 2012 when he took a high, blindside hit from the Flyers’ Tom Sestito. Just seven months earlier, Horton was the victim of that brutal late hit from Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, which left him rigid and motionless on the ice with a concussion.
Flash forward back to present day and Horton is looking to put that all behind him as he returns to his first line duties alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
“I feel great,” Horton said. “I’ve had a lot of time to work out and get back to normal. Obviously it’s been tough for everyone this year. It’s not the way anybody wanted it to be. But I feel great. Better than I have in a long time.”
Horton was reportedly 100% and ready to go for the season’s original planned start in September but chose not to play overseas while the labor negotiations kept the NHL locked out for 113 days.
The Bruins are hoping that Horton can stay on the ice and return to being the right-winged scoring threat that they acquired from the Florida Panthers back in 2010. I’m certain that Horton is hoping the same, especially considering he’s heading into the final year of his current contract.
“I really haven’t thought of it,” Horton said. “I’m not even worried about my head. I’m not worried about contact, getting in a fight, or anything like that. It’s really in the back of my head.
“I’m looking to the future. I haven’t thought of it. I feel better than I have in a long, long time. I’m just happy to feel good.”