BOSTON, MA - On Tuesday, as the Bruins returned to work at TD Garden in advance of their second round series against Montreal, Daniel Paille got to take part in the full contact practice.
"It feels good to be out there with the guys in a full practice - I've skated for over a week now on my own, and a couple of optional skates - but definitely feels good to get a full contact practice going. I feel fresh," said Paille, speaking with media for the first time since his injury in the final regular season home game on April 12.
Paille had taken a heavy hit from Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe in the third period of that penultimate game, and has since been out of game action.
"I've been definitely watching the games with the guys that haven't played, and realize how good we've been, so it's definitely positive, especially going into the second round," said Paille.
"To have the opportunity to skate today and play with contact, you definitely take it for granted when you don't have it, so I felt very fortunate to come back and practice with the team."
Paille doesn't have any more testing, to his knowledge.
"Right now, as far as I know, I'm cleared to play and I believe the coaches know that as well, so that's why I'm practicing with the team, so it's a big positive," said the forward.
He never felt many symptoms, but because it was his third injury this season (he missed a combined ten games from concussions during the regular season), there were more precautions taken, even if he did feel like he could have been ready to go midway through the first round.
"I didn't feel like I had too long of any symptoms/injuries but there was a lot of precautions and [I] had to continue with that process," he said. "And I think I heard Claude say I felt great after the first day, and I did, there's no question about that. I guess we just didn't want to rush this one."
"I waited for the okay from our doctors," said Julien, of Paille being cleared and joining the full contact skate. "That is basically what I waited for, so to say that 'he might have been ready,' I need to know that 'he was ready.' I know that he is ready for the next round now."
Paille certainly feels ready.
"Putting myself in these positions really bothers me, because I know I'm a better player than that, but I believe there's a lot more reason behind it, and so does the staff here," said the forward, of the precautions that are necessary to take for his health, but are nevertheless frustrating.
"Again, I believe that I've cleared that up now, and I feel unbelievable right now and I want to continue that throughout this week."
While cleared, Julien was still cautious about Paille's impending return.
"Well again, we’ll see where we are guys. The series hasn’t started yet and we haven’t made any decisions yet," said Julien, when asked about the addition of a penalty killer like Paille back in the lineup. "So let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here."
Unfortunately, dealing with concussions has been something all too familiar to Julien through the years.
"I respect the protocols, I respect all the stuff that goes with those kinds of injuries and I kind of just wait for my trainer and the team doctors to say, 'he’s yours,'" said Julien. "Until then, I don’t ask questions, I don’t push the issue and I never will."
"So I have a lot of respect for that part of the injury and will respect the medical staff decision right to the end."