– It doesn't look like the concussion that ended Nathan Horton
's participation in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final is going to affect his contributions to the Bruins at the start of the 2011-12 season.
Horton, on hand Wednesday night to participate in Milan Lucic
's charity softball tournament at LeLacheur Park, said he's feeling fine and will be ready to go when training camp opens next month.
"I'll definitely be ready," he said. "I'd be ready right now if we started."
Right Wing - BOS
GOALS: 26 | ASST: 27 | PTS: 53
SOG: 188 | +/-: 29
Horton's season ended on June 6 when he was hit late and high by Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome
during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. From there, Horton's contributions to Boston's cause were limited to a cheering cameo on the TD Garden scoreboard, a locker-room presentation of the team's lucky jacket to Rich Peverley
after Boston's Game 4 win, and pouring "dirty water" from Boston onto the Rogers Arena ice prior to the Bruins' Game 7 victory.
Nonetheless, Horton felt as much as part of the triumph as he could.
"Even though I didn't play in the end, it was a lot of fun to be there and to see my teammates and just celebrate with them," Horton said. "It was such an amazing feeling. Like everyone says, you dream of it as a kid, and it's just pretty special and something that a lot of people don't get to do in their life."
Days after the Bruins won the Cup, Horton said he felt symptom-free. He has stayed that way during the summer, as he rested and then started his workout regimen during the club's shortened offseason. He hasn't skated yet, but expects to get some new skates and hit the ice in Boston soon.
"It's hard to say, because I was just so excited," Horton said about his health when the season ended. "I didn't feel too bad. Flying on a plane and stuff didn't bother me, and I was real excited that we won. I felt pretty good. I didn't feel bad. Right after it happened, I didn't feel great, but I didn't feel as bad as I thought I should have. Right now I feel great."
2011 NHL OFFSEASON NEWS
Bolland hopes for breakout season
Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent
Chicago center Dave Bolland
, who's missed big parts of the last two seasons with injuries, is working hard this summer in hopes of a breakout season in 2011-12. READ MORE ›
Horton doesn't need to look far within the Bruins family to see how head injuries can impact a player's career. Center Marc Savard
's return to action is in doubt because of two concussions he suffered over the course of the last two seasons. Several star players, including Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby
, have battled similar injuries. When he looks at his situation and those of others, Horton doesn't take anything for granted.
"[I feel] real lucky, he said. "Concussions are not fun, and to have a bad one -- it's tough. I'm fortunate to feel pretty good and to not have any setbacks."
The aftermath of his incident with Rome has given Horton perspective on hits to the head, a subject that has caused a lot of debate not just in the NHL but throughout the entire hockey community.
"There's guys that hit out there and they hit lots, they hit hard, they hurt people, and I think that they do it within the game," Horton said. "You just know, and I think you just have that respect factor to know when to hit people. The people that don't understand that or don't get it, I think that's what you need to fix and what you need to change. There's a difference between hitting hard and hitting dirty. That's definitely something that shouldn't be in the game."
His concussion battle is just one part of what has been a wild last 14 months for Horton, who a year ago was still getting settled in his new city after he was traded from Florida to Boston in June 2010. He finished the regular season with 26 goals (his most since 2007-08) and 53 points in his inaugural season with the Bruins.
His first experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs couldn't have gone any better, except for the injury in the Final. On his way to winning the Cup, Horton scored overtime goals, including the series-winner against Montreal, then had the only goal of the game in Boston's 1-0 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the conference finals.
"Last summer, going somewhere different, I didn't know what to expect, and obviously this summer, with what happened last year, this year it's such a great feeling," he said. "I'm still on a high, and I think a lot of guys are real excited still, but we know once it starts over, we're all even again and it's our time to win it again."
When the Bruins start their campaign to "win it again," they should have Horton at 100 percent. Considering what they did without him in the Final, they might be tougher to beat in 2011-12.