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Shanahan hopes to return this season @NHLdotcom

NEW YORK (AP) -Brendan Shanahan expects to play again this season even though he's still feeling the effects of his first career concussion.

Shanahan spoke to reporters Saturday night before his New York Rangers teammates lost 3-2 to Columbus. He made his first public comments since a violent collision with Philadelphia's Mike Knuble left him unconscious on the Madison Square Garden ice one week earlier.

"I'm experiencing symptoms, but overall I feel pretty good," the 38-year-old forward said before taking a seat in a luxury box to watch the game. "I never had a concussion before so I have no history of getting one or recovering from one to draw from.

"I have to kind of approach it differently than the injuries I've approached in the past but it doesn't diminish my desire to be back the moment I am medically cleared."

Shanahan saw a neurologist on Friday, but because he is still suffering from vertigo he can't do any physical activity. He expects to visit the doctor on a weekly basis until he is well enough to play.

So far, he has been told that resting is the best thing he can do. During the week he has sneaked away from his family at times to take an afternoon nap. He said the symptoms seem to be lessening and he believes he will return this season, which has about six weeks remaining before the playoffs.

"I'm optimistic," he said. "I've been very lucky in my career with injuries, especially with concussions. I have a hard Irish head. What I've been hearing from everybody is this, unlike other injuries and body parts, there is no exact science."

Shanahan said he feels discomfort when he moves his head in certain directions, but hasn't felt moody or depressed.

Sitting out is not in his nature. Other than missing games to rest up late in the season or to be with his wife for the birth of twins, Shanahan said he hasn't been sidelined much.

"There's hurt and there is injured," he said. "I've always played hurt. I think the last game I missed because of an injury was in '98, so I've been well trained in playing hurt and kind of playing with pain.

"This is something that would really be stupid for me to play with symptoms. There is no disguising it or masking it or biting your teeth and getting through something like this."

Shanahan and Knuble slammed into each other last Saturday as they crossed paths near the benches. They were following the puck and never saw each other before the big impact sent both to the ice.

Knuble had surgery this week to repair fractures to his orbital bone and cheekbone.

Shanahan appeared to be unconscious before he fell. The collision jostled his loose helmet forward and didn't give the back of his head much protection when it struck the ice. He came to after several minutes and was wheeled out on a stretcher as cheers of "Shanny, Shanny" rained down from the rafters.

"I don't remember any of it, any of the shift or the collision. I've seen it," said Shanahan, who spent one night in the hospital. "The first thing I remembered, it was actually kind of a nice feeling. I heard the fans chanting my name. They kind of woke me up. The reason why it was a nice feeling was because I thought maybe I scored."

He didn't, and the Rangers lost 5-3 to the Flyers. They earned only one point in the following two games - a home-and-home series with New Jersey - and are in 12th place in the Eastern Conference with 20 games remaining.

"If they're not in front of me, I don't count on them," Rangers coach Tom Renney said when asked if he expected Shanahan back this season. "We'll operate in a real prudent fashion."

Renney hinted after the game that the team might need to make moves before Tuesday's NHL trade deadline if the Rangers are going to have a real chance to reach the playoffs.

Shanahan has been to the Rangers' practice rink a few times this week and received some treatment. Saturday marked his second visit to the Garden since his injury. He surprised teammates last Sunday before their victory over Chicago.

When he was shown on the video board during the first period Saturday, fans cheered even though his name wasn't mentioned. That changed in the third when he was shown again, his name in lights as the Rangers pressed for the tying goal.

Shanahan, who leads the team with 28 goals, has quickly become a favorite during his first season with the Rangers.

"It brings me back to the Garden fans again and what they've given me so far in my short time here," Shanahan said. "I was out a long time and that's what woke me up."

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