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Playing the percentages

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
BROSSARD – Michael Bournival, who suffered a concussion three weeks ago, is taking things one step at a time in his recovery.

While battling for the puck along the boards during a game in early February, the Habs’ rookie forward was struck by a teammate’s stick. The seemingly innocuous play resulted in Bournival returning to the locker room to receive stitches for a cut to his chin before taking to the ice a few shifts later.

“At first I didn’t realize I had suffered a concussion. It was only on the following day that I began experiencing symptoms,” revealed the 21-year-old, who does not have a history of head injuries during his hockey career. “[The incident] proves that it doesn’t take much to get a concussion, though I have to say that the stick caught me pretty good. Everybody saw it on TV, but I got to feel it. These things happen. It’s unfortunate but it’s part of the game.”

The speedy Shawinigan, QC native experienced few signs of brain trauma at first. However, by the time morning rolled around, he realized something was wrong.

“It was my first concussion. One of the reasons I didn’t realize it right away was that I didn’t know what a concussion felt like and what to expect. A headache and nausea were the main symptoms. At first I would get very nauseous when I tried to exercise,” described Bournival. “Being injured is never a good thing, and in this case  I have to take the time to make sure I'm okay before coming back.”

Still, Bournival can count himself lucky. While he completed a successful four-year Junior career with his hometown Shawinigan Cataractes with 204 points and no major head injuries, over 25% of all NHL prospects do embark on their pro careers having suffered at least one on-ice concussion. Under the care of Canadiens team physicians and trainers, Bournival has been taking things one step at a time in the hopes of making a speedy recovery.

“I had to pass a bunch of tests and report my symptoms on a daily basis. After some time, I was able to start skating alone. We took the time to make sure everything was 100% before moving ahead,” he offered. “Not being able to train was definitely bad. I like to work out and not being active was difficult.”

Twenty-one days after being put on injured reserve by management, Bournival took to the ice alongside his teammates, wearing a blue "no contact" jersey. The forced layoff did not seem to affect his skating or shooting abilities, as he showed a good deal of jump in his step and put the puck behind goaltenders Peter Budaj and Dustin Tokarski on several occasions during drills.

“I felt good being on the ice today. It was a productive session and if I feel just as good tomorrow, then it would be a big step in the right direction,” stated Bournival.

Also spending time in the Canadiens’ infirmary are Carey Price and Brandon Prust, neither of whom skated on Friday. Price, who backstopped Team Canada to a gold medal in Sochi, is receiving daily treatment for a lower-body injury, which he re-aggravated during the Olympic Games. As for Prust, he is out with an upper-body injury and is spending his days in the gym in an effort to get back into game shape as soon as possible. One player absent entirely from the Habs’ practice facility in Brossard on Friday was centerman Ryan White, who is home sick with the flu.

Jack Han is a writer for

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