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Drouin feels close to return from concussion

by Shawn P. Roarke

TORONTO -- Jonathan Drouin said Sunday that he is getting closer to taking the ice with the Canadian junior national team.

Unfortunately, that won't happen before the Canadians depart for Europe later today. He does, however, plan to skate during the team's run-up to the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, which begins Dec. 26 in Malmo, Sweden. Canada has a week-long European training camp and also plays three exhibition games.

Drouin has been sidelined for nine days with a concussion, but he has ridden a stationary bicycle for each of the past two days and has not reported any symptoms related to a concussion. Drouin said he has experienced no post-concussion symptoms for the past three days.

"Riding the bike is not the funnest thing, but it is part of the protocol," Drouin said Sunday, the first time he has spoken to reporters since he arrived for the three-day camp on Thursday evening. At that time, he said he was still experiencing light headaches, but was hopeful that they were the result of the flight from Halifax, Nova Scotia. "But, I'm getting used to it and hope to get on the ice soon."

Much is expected from Drouin in this tournament. He is one of Canada's most talented offensive players and has been dominant this year with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Junior Hockey League. Taken at No. 3 by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2013 NHL Draft, Drouin has 17 goals and 50 points in 23 league games, Drouin had two goals and two assists in the WJC tournament last season.

"I'm one of the go-to guys is what people are saying," Drouin said. "But, I'll just approach it one day at a time and play like I did in past years and hopefully it will work out."

Drouin says that the recovery from the concussion, sustained when he was hit by Adam Erne of the Quebec Remparts this past Friday, has weighed heavily on him as the deadline for proving he is healthy has approached. Now, though, he feels the end of the recovery process is in sight.

"Obviously, you want to play for the world junior team and when that happened, I was making sure I was alright," he said. "For the past few days, I've been feeling fine."

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