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Just about good to go

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

COLUMBUS – It hasn’t been the easiest of stretches for Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, but it looks like the veteran winger will be back in the Canadiens’ lineup sooner rather than later.

On Wednesday, Parenteau practiced alongside his teammates for a second consecutive day, taking part in every aspect of the on-ice session at Nationwide Arena. While the 31-year-old won’t suit up against the Blue Jackets on Thursday night, it appears that his concussion woes are over and that a return to active duty is imminent.

“I think I was fully recovered from the last one. I had some bad luck against the Senators when I got hurt again. But, we followed the protocol just like we should. Team doctors gave me the green light. Now, it’s just a question of conditioning. Things have been going well in that department for the last three or four days,” offered Parenteau, who hasn’t seen game action since January 15 when he suffered his second concussion in a span of two weeks at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. “I’m hoping to come back this week, but it won’t be against Columbus. Right now, I’m working hard with [strength and conditioning coach] Pierre Allard and the rest of the staff to get back into game shape.”

This isn’t the first time that Parenteau has battled concussion issues. He openly admits that he suffered a concussion in the minors about five or six years ago. That experience taught him a few things about what it takes to overcome one of the most frustrating injuries for any athlete to encounter.

“It’s the hardest injury in sport. It’s such a grey area. It’s never black or white with concussions. You always doubt yourself a little bit, even when you’re coming back. But, we took a lot of time and we were patient enough with my case. I think that was the way to do it. Now, I feel 100 percent,” confided Parenteau, who has six goals and 15 points in 40 games with the Canadiens during the 2014-15 campaign. “Honestly, everyone would rather have a broken arm than a concussion. I’m happy that I’m over it. I think if you follow the concussion protocol to the letter like we just did, there won’t be a problem.”

Chomping at the bit to lace up his skates for real, Parenteau is adamant that his confidence hasn’t been rattled by his latest bout with the injury bug. In fact, the one-time 20 goal-scorer says his confidence level is right where it should be.

“I don’t think I’m more fragile now. We were extremely careful and we followed the protocol to the letter. That’s why I don’t think I’m more vulnerable than usual. On the contrary, I’m feeling more confident on the ice and I’m excited to get back and play,” explained Parenteau, who rotated spots with Christian Thomas at practice on Wednesday on a line with Manny Malhotra and Michael Bournival. “It’s a really tough injury to have mentally. Physically, it’s definitely a grind when you’re in the middle of it. But, you come back stronger from that kind of stuff. Hopefully, that’s going to be the same thing in my case, too. I’m confident it’s behind me now.”

Having watched the last 17 games from the sidelines – 12 of which have resulted in victories for Michel Therrien’s troops – the seven-year NHL veteran’s desire to don the CH in a tilt is entirely understandable. Parenteau is itching to contribute to the Canadiens’ cause with 22 regular season games to go, which bodes well for a successful return.

“I’m glad I’m seeing my teammates play such good hockey. I know we have a great team, but I know when I’m 100 percent healthy, I can definitely help them. I’m working really hard to get my spot back,” stressed Parenteau. “I’ve been out for a little bit longer than I’d hoped to be, so I’m a little bit more rested than the other guys. Hopefully, that can pay dividends the rest of the way.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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