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Orpik Speaks for First Time Since Suffering Concussion

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik practiced with his teammates Friday afternoon for the first time since suffering a concussion Dec. 7.

Orpik, who had been skating on his own since Dec. 13, passed a baseline test for concussions and went through contact drills Thursday with teammates Deryk Engelland, Rob Scuderi and Tanner Glass.

“I did some contact yesterday with ‘Engo,’ Tanner and ‘Scuds,’” Orpik said. “I got through that and felt pretty good today. We’re going from there.”

There are no restrictions on Orpik from doctors, but there is no timeframe for Orpik, 33, to return to the lineup.

“It's just getting back into the flow of things. I don’t know when I’ll be back playing,” Orpik said. “I don’t want to screw up a good thing. I just want to get a few practices in.”

Orpik suffered a concussion after Boston’s Shawn Thornton slew-footed him to the ice and delivered two punches to his head during a game. Orpik was diagnosed with a concussion after experiencing headaches and memory loss.

“The first two, three days were really miserable, bad headaches, memory loss with the incident itself,” Orpik said. “After that I remember everything. Since the incident there was no memory loss.”

Although Orpik does not remember the play or any part of the actual game itself, he has no desire to see the incident after the fact.

“I haven’t watched it and I don’t have any memory of it,” Orpik told reporters Friday after practice. “I don’t have a thought on it. I’ve avoided it. I don’t have any desire to watch it.”

Orpik and Thornton have become friends over the past several years. They skated 40-50 times, worked out and had lunches together during last season’s lockout. Thornton immediately reached out to Orpik to apologize.

“I talked to him that night and I talked to him the day after. He was really apologetic,” Orpik said. “My record is far from perfect in this league and far from being completely clean. I think he knew he made a mistake and regretted it right away. I had the same feeling with incidents that I’ve been a part of. You try to learn from it, move on and be smarter in similar situations going forward. I know him pretty well. He’s always been a pretty good friend of mine.”

Thornton was given a 15-game suspension from the NHL, which he is appealing. Orpik wouldn’t give his opinion on the length of the suspension.

“I don’t really care about the suspension,” Orpik said. “Everyone is going to have an opinion. No one will be completely satisfied or completely agree with it.”

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