After Christmas, Eddie Lack was poised to return from his first concussion.
Then, all of a sudden, he suffered another.
"It's been frustrating at times, I'm not going to lie," Lack said sitting in his stall in the Hurricanes locker room in late January, finally clear of all concussion symptoms and ready to get back in to game action.
Video: Eddie Lack: "Every concussion is different"
It was mid-November, prior to the Hurricanes' Thanksgiving-week trip to Canada. After the formal end of practice, Lack remained on the ice to touch up on certain facets of his game.
"We were just practicing some rims and stuff behind the net," he explained. "I caught something on my skate, fell backwards and hit my head."
From there, as with any concussion, it was an ever-changing, unpredictable road to recovery.
"I had no idea what to expect. I kind of thought I was going to be like everyone else, you know, out 5-7 days and then back. But every concussion is different," Lack said. "Now I'm 100 percent, but obviously it was very day-to-day. You're waking up and trying to see how you feel, maybe today's the day you feel better. It was frustrating at times, but the doctors here are very forward-thinking with concussions, so I feel like I've been taken care of, too."
Lack was sidelined for about a month, missing 14 games in that time. He served as a back-up for the next four games until landing back on injured reserve.
"There was actually another concussion on top of the one I already had," Lack said, vaguely noting something happened before the Canes' game in Pittsburgh on Dec. 28. "I didn't really know if it was just small symptoms and I was fine, but then I was trying to go with it and it kept getting worse and worse."
Lack missed another 13 games over the course of another month.
"This is my fourth season in the NHL, and I haven't missed a game before this," Lack said. "I felt like I kept good spirits through this, and now I'm just really happy to be back and ready to go."
Over the NHL All-Star break, Lack started two straight games with the Charlotte Checkers, his first time facing pucks in game action since Nov. 6. He made 59 saves on 62 shots (.952 save percentage) while recording a 1-1-0 record.
"I felt really good out there. I felt like I was seeing the puck well and tracking it. My body felt good and everything," Lack said. "I'm an athlete, so I really like to compete every day. Just to get that team feel again and being part of a team was really good, and I'm ready to get back out there."
The chance to start again for the Hurricanes may come sooner rather than later. The Hurricanes play in a back-to-back set with travel this weekend. Head coach Bill Peters said he has a plan for how he wants to use his two goaltenders.
"Sooner rather than later would be good," Peters said. "He's already played twice now and feels good about his game."
His personality and sense of humor? Yeah, it's still there, too. When discussing concussion recovery, it was brought up that Jeff Skinner, when he was concussed, would wonder from day to day whether he was "normal" again.
"Well, Jeff is still not normal," Lack quipped, without missing a beat - and he would know.