VOORHEES, N.J. – The first line and the third line wore orange. The second line and the fourth line wore white. The defensemen wore black.
And then there was one shadowy figure in grey, wearing a tinted visor fully participating in practice.
To say it was a surprise to see Marc-Andre Bourdon on the ice Sunday would be an understatement.
Almost a forgotten man in the Flyers organization, sidelined for the past 14 months with post-concussion symptoms, there was some belief that the one-time Flyers prospect may never play hockey again.
He had been under the care of doctors who couldn’t figure out how to resolve the vestibular issues Bourdon was
|Marc-Andre Bourdon practiced with the Flyers Sunday. He is looking to play a pro hockey game for the first time since Nov. 30, 2012 when he suffered a concussion. |
having. He couldn’t focus his eyes. Bright lights bothered him. He was able to work out and skate, but he couldn’t get over the hump.
So, the Flyers looked for another avenue for Bourdon to see if he could still play hockey. They found a team of Michigan-based doctors, led by Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, who were willing to look into his problems.
Kutcher’s team, which included two other doctors, two athletic trainers and a massage therapist, determined that Bourdon’s issues were more related to the occipital (rear) part of his cranium and how it sat on his spine.
After two months of intense evaluation and therapy, Bourdon was able to return from Ann Arbor to Philadelphia with a smile on his face – and a light at the end of the tunnel.
“It was crazy because it went so fast when they put their finger on the right problem, which was the back of my cranium and my neck,” Bourdon said. “All of my muscles were so tight. I could barely move my head, but I didn’t realize it because it was so long. When they started clearing everything back there, the muscles, my head started clearing up and all my post-concussion symptoms were gone.”
Bourdon, who has been skating and exercising for eight months said he is in the best shape of his life and no longer has any symptoms and is ready to return to hockey, something the 24-year-old was beginning to worry would never happen for him.
“I’m very thankful to God to get me to Michigan,” Bourdon said. “It didn’t just improve my hockey. It improved my life in general. I thank God every day for that. I’m really grateful I can have a good life and be back to hockey and try to make my way back up.”
That’s going to take some time as well, but assuming Bourdon is cleared by Flyers doctor Gary Dorshimer tomorrow for full activity – and the belief is he will – Bourdon is going to have to start that lengthy journey back with the Adirondack Phantoms.
“Marc passed his neuro-psych testing this morning,” said Paul Holmgren via text message. “We are hopeful he will be cleared for full activity (tomorrow). If he is, we will then send him to the Phantoms where he can practice with the team and work his way into their lineup.”
Bourdon is on a one-way contract, but doesn’t have to clear waivers now because of the special circumstances surrounding his recovery from his injury. The Flyers were able to use those special circumstances because they put him on waivers back in September when he was still hurt and he went unclaimed.
“Nobody told me anything yet,” Bourdon said. “But I’ll go wherever the organization sends me. I’m glad I can play hockey and have a good life. I’m ready to roll, wherever they need me.”
Bourdon has taken some contact playing in a local men’s league in Michigan, the first action he’s seen since suffering his second concussion in a short period of time on Nov. 30, 2012 in a game against the Binghamton Senators.
He said he’s had no issues, but professional hockey will be much different than a beer league – and Bourdon knows that. But, he’s playing with house money at this point.
“I was wondering if this was ever going to happen,” Bourdon said. “I’m thankful for every doctor and the Flyers organization. They did everything in their power to get me back.”
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers