BOSTON – Bruins forward Nathan Horton says he’s ready to get back in games but he understands why the team is taking it slow as he returns from a concussion.
“Obviously, I want to play. But they’re going to give me a chance to ease my way back into it,” Horton said Friday after the team’s practice.
The Bruins were scheduled to play their second exhibition game on Friday night against the New York Islanders—their first game at home since winning the Stanley Cup in June. Horton did not skate in the earlier session Friday morning with the players where were expected to play against the Islanders.
Horton said he’s had no setbacks since being knocked out of the Stanley Cup finals in Game 3 on a hit from Vancouver Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome. Horton did not return to the series as the Bruins went on to win their first championship since 1972.
“He’s fine,” coach Claude Julien said. “I expect to get him in the lineup shortly here.”
The Bruins have four more exhibition games, including matchups with the Canadiens on Sunday and Monday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Montreal. They open the regular season at home against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 6.
Horton said before the start of training camp this month that he had been working out for a while but only got back on the ice recently.
The 26-year-old forward, a former No. 3 overall pick in the draft, scored 26 goals with 27 assists last year in the regular season, his first with the Bruins. In the first playoff appearance of his career, he scored eight goals with nine assists, scoring the winning goal in overtime in Game 7 of the first round against Montreal—and again in the Eastern Conference finals.
He had just passed the puck early in the first period of Game 3 against Vancouver when Rome turned his shoulder and left his skates to hit him. Horton was apparently knocked unconscious, hitting his head on the ice and staying down for several minutes before medical personnel took him away on a stretcher.
He returned to the building, but never the ice, providing the team with an emotional lift. Before Game 7 in Vancouver, he was caught superstitiously emptying a bottle of water from Boston onto the ice at the Rogers Arena.