One of the most difficult aspects of Drake Caggiula's recovery from a concussion is that a timetable to return to the Blackhawks' lineup has been a great unknown since the winger missed his first game with the injury back on Nov. 13.
"I wish I was smart enough to develop a piece of technology that could scan your brain as if it was an X-ray and tell you that you're out two to four weeks or whatever but unfortunately we don't have that just yet," said Caggiula, who missed his 26th consecutive game when the Blackhawks defeated the Red Wings 4-2 on Sunday night at the United Center. "It's one of those things you just have to be patient with. Any other injury other than my head and I know that I'd be out there trying to play. But your head is a big, important piece and you have to make sure you take care of it."
That is why despite having practiced with the Blackhawks for weeks, Caggiula remains sidelined. Most of the symptoms have long since dissipated but the 25-year-old isn't fully clear of them quite yet.
Video: CBJ@CHI: Caggiula picks the corner to open scoring
There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel as Caggiula said he's "definitely getting really close" to returning to a Blackhawks team that could use his presence in the lineup. "I'm trying not to really set dates just because I've done that before and been disappointed. I feel really good and really close. I don't imagine it being too much longer.
"This week has been a really good week," added Caggiula, who has had prior concussions during his career but never for this length of time. "Staying home from these last couple of road trips and getting the extra treatment and just getting an extra little bit of rest and being at home and comfortable has gone a long way for me. I've taken a lot of big strides and I'm starting to feel really good. Hopefully, the time comes in the next couple of days or so here."
With the Blackhawks looking to make a move in the standings, Caggiula would like nothing more than to get back in action but has followed the team's - and his own - advice to take his time.
"The team has been really good with not making me feel pressure to play and just be ready when I'm ready," Caggiula said. "It helps that our coach has gone through similar situations that I've been in and we've had some really good talks. That only adds to my confidence in the situation and it allows me to feel more comfortable and take the time that I need. It's been going on a long time but hopefully it's going to help out in the long run being extra careful."
During his recovery, Caggiula has had conversations with Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton, whose own playing career was cut short due to concussions.
What advice did Colliton give Caggiula?
"Ultimately, you have to make sure you're 100 percent," Colliton said. "If you think there might be something that then there might be and it's just no way can you perform at your highest level. We've been patient and I think when he comes back he has to feel that he's totally confident in himself and he can be a good player for us."
If Caggiula has his way, that will be sometime during the Blackhawks' four-game homestand that will continue when they face the Flames on Tuesday night.
"I'm hoping," Caggiula said. "There are still a few more tests that I would personally like to get through myself but hopefully sometime this week would be great. But I'm trying not to set a date because I've been disappointed before. But I'm starting to feel really good so hopefully it's sooner rather than later."