In his first public words since going down with a concussion nearly three weeks ago, B’s center Patrice Bergeron  said he’s back working out on the exercise bike and has been headache free for the last 5-6 days. The 23-year-old wouldn’t put a timetable on Bergeron’s return to the ice, but he made clear that this concussion wasn’t nearly as severe as the one last season. He also made clear that he’ll be returning to game action this season.
“I’m feeling better,” said Bergeron, looking healthy and sounding lucid through the 10 minute conversation. “For the last five or six days I’ve been having some great days. No headaches. It’s been good. I’m still taking it day-by-day and not looking too far ahead, but but so far I’m feeling good.”
This is outstanding news for everyone involved with the Bruins and for Bergeron, himself, who clearly experienced flashbacks to last year’s season-long struggle to shake the debilitating cobwebs from his head and return to the ice.
Here’s a transcript of Bergeron’s Q&A with the media this morning, and the link to the sound bytes from Bergie are here :
How are you feeling? PB: I’m feeling a lot better. For the last five or six days I’ve been having some great days. No headaches. So it’s been good. Obviously I’m still taking it day-by-day and not looking too far ahead. So far I’m feeling good.
Take us through what happened and what has it been like to recover. PB: As everyone knows I had a concussion. It’s been tough. It’s been frustrating. I’ve worked my way back from last year and starting to feel a lot better on the ice and then that hit happened. I’m trying to stay positive and now that the worst of it is behind me I feel a lot better. I’m obviously very positive about the way that I’m feeling. Talking to the doctors and knowing that the type of hit right on the jaw like that has nothing to do with last year’s hit. He said that it would have happened to almost anyone’¦a hit like that on the jaw.
That seems a little strange that you got a concussion rather than an injured jaw. PB: Well, I mean I’m not the first one to ever get a concussion from getting a hit to the jaw. I would have preferred [an injury] to the jaw instead of a concussion. My jaw is fine now. It was sore for a couple of days. But I’m good and I’m just looking better each and every day.
Did you kind of go through the ‘Oh no’¦not again’ in your head? PB: Well’¦not right away. Right away I was really dizzy and I wasn’t really thinking about much. Looking back a couple of days after [the hit] I was really frustrated. I was a little down, but now that I’m feeling better I’m positive, I’m looking forward and I’m taking it day-by-day.
Do you have a schedule to get on the ice? PB: Not yet. Obviously there is all the doctors, the neurologists and the trainers with me and helping me out. I’m following their orders and they were great with me last year. I know they’re doing the right thing. For me it’s taking it day-by-day and seeing what happens.
Do you sense this is different than last year? PB: Yeah. Totally. They said it but I can also feel it. I feel a lot better. I’m talking to you guys and it’s been a little less than three weeks and I feel good. It’s not even close to last year and it’s not even related, so I feel good about that.
Where are you in your workouts? PB: As far as workouts go, I take it day-by-day and right now I’m riding the bike. I’m just trying to see if I get any symptoms when I increase my heart rate and things like that. Right now I’m at about 25 or 30 minutes on the bike or the elliptical right now with my heart rate up to about 145 per minute to 150. I’m very happy about that and the doctors are also. So far I’m taking it day-by-day and I don’t want to get too far ahead and then get disappointed by stepping back. So I’m taking it day-by-day and improving every day and feeling good.
Are you relieved and excited at where you are right now? PB: I am [excited]. I would like to be on the ice right now and skating and playing with the guys and be talking to you guys without talking about any concussion-type issues. But it happened and now I’m optimistic and very happy and feeling better almost every day. So it’s good.
What have your teammates told you? PB: Well, they’re fine. They also showed a lot of support. They did it last year and they did it again this year. They’ve seen me around the locker room and they know that I’m feeling better. They’re supporting me, but at the same time I’m good.
What’s it been like emotionally? PB: Well, I worked so hard to get back and I was starting to feel better with my game and that [hit] happened. To go down again with a concussion was really frustrating. Like I said, it was the first week that I was really thinking about that and down and a little negative. Now that I’ve improved I’m not thinking about that. I’m just looking forward.
How is your family taking it? PB: It was hard for them. They were actually watching the game back in Quebec and it was hard for them. You know it’s tough for them. I had to go and tell them after a minutes that I was feeling better. They came down ‘ well they’re gone now ‘ but they came down for a while after the hit and my girlfriend was there too. It was obviously tough for my family, but they were there supporting me and helping me getting through this.
Has the recovery been a little easier given that you’ve been through this before? PB: Yeah. A little bit. I think that the biggest thing I learned about last year was taking it day-by-day and not looking too far ahead. If I do I might get disappointed. If I say that I want to be skating in one or two weeks and then I don’t ‘ then I would be disappointed. So I take it day-by-day and follow the orders of the doctors and the trainers and don’t try to do too much when you do feel better. Because it can set you back.
Any fear about getting back on the ice? PB: Nope. Not at all. I was asked that last year and I said the same thing. I wasn’t scared at all and it wasn’t the same thing. It happened. There’s not much you can do about it. I’m going to go back out there and play my game. That’s about it.
What actually happened on the play? PB: I was trying to force the red line on Seidenberg and sort of try to force him to get rid of the puck. He was coming in flying and he got me and I kind of turned I guess at the wrong moment. He kind of got me right on the jam. That’s a play that I’m going to do 20 times and he’s never going to hit me on the jaw like that. You know’¦I guess it’s an accident but it’s a tough one to take when you go down for 9 or 10 games and get a concussion. But that’s I look at it. I was trying to play the red line.
Did you hear from Seidenberg? PB: No, I haven’t heard from him. It’s the type of play where, yes, you feel bad that the guy goes down, but there’s not much you can do. He just kept skating. It’s not the type of hit that’s a cheap shot. Not even close to that. He didn’t try to reach me, but it’s part of the game.
Will you definitely play again this year? PB: Yeah. I’m very confident I will play this year. It’s a matter of when. That’s why I don’t want to put a date on it at this point and then get disappointed like I was last year during the playoffs. I’ve learned from that, but yes I believe I’ll be back.
Has it been tough watching and knowing you can’t play right now? PB: Yes it is, but at the same time when you’re winning then you’re happy [for the team]. I’m happy for all of the guys. They’re playing well and I would love to be out there helping them. Everybody is doing a tremendous job and everybody is pulling together. It’s fun to watch.
Are you looking into equipment and other ways to maybe avoid concussions out on the ice? PB: Part of it is that the symptoms are gone and I’m working my back. But part of it is also is looking at things that could help with a concussion. Right now there’s not much that doctors know. We all know that a mouthpiece helps. I do wear a mouthpiece and we’re looking into it and seeing if there’s anything better. We’re looking into that. Helmets’¦all of that stuff. We might have to work with Reebok and see if we can change some stuff on the helmet. Right now I have no idea. So far it’s about me feeling good, getting better every day and then taking it from there.
What was going through your mind as you were coming off the ice after the hit? PB: I don’t know. Not much. After off the ice I was more frustrated and sad I guess that I might be going through this all over again. A little fear from what happened last year. Right away when the hit happened you’re like ‘Geez is that the same thing all over?’ But I guess after a week or a week-and-a-half it wasn’t anything like last year and I was going to feel better, quicker.
How long did the symptoms last for and what were they? PB: First few days’¦first week-and-a-half I had headaches, nausea, dizziness and that’s about it. Just feeling very sleepy. Had to sleep a lot.
But the symptoms weren’t as bad as last year? PB: No’¦it wasn’t even close. That kind of helped me knowing it wasn’t close to last year and that I’d be back. But it’s still hard to go through that feeling again. It’s a tough feeling because you can’t do much. You have to go rest and you don’t ever know when the headaches are going to be there. So it’s not a good feeling.
No setbacks? PB: So far I’ve felt pretty good because I’ve taken it easy because we didn’t want to go out there and get on the bike and then have to step back. So, we went from five minutes barely spinning the legs to 25-30 minutes. So we didn’t have any setbacks this time.
No headaches? PB: Yes.
Any issue with lost strength or weight when you do come back? PB: I don’t see it being as bad because I don’t see it being as long. Last year I was out for I think 7-8 months without doing anything and I lost 15 pounds. So obviously it was hard to gain muscle and strength back. This time it’s not even close. I am still like two pounds lighter than I was when the hit happened. So I’m keeping the same weight. I don’t think it’s going to be as hard.