WILMINGTON – Nathan Horton joined the Bruins’ informal practice at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday. This was Horton’s first time skating alongside his teammates this week.
Horton, who has not played since Jan. 22, 2012, when he suffered a season-ending concussion against Philadelphia, said he has not had any post-concussion syndrome symptoms during the lockout.
“I feel great,” Horton said. “I’ve had a lot of time to work out and get back to normal. Obviously it’s been tough for everyone this year. It’s not the way anybody wanted it to be. But I feel great. Better than I have in a long time.”
Horton’s health will be critical to the upcoming 48-game season. If Horton can be a top-six forward, it will settle the Bruins’ lineup and give them a power-play weapon.
Horton tried to make a comeback for the playoffs last year. But the team shut Horton down for the rest of the run.
During the summer and the lockout, Horton skated and worked out near his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home base. Horton said he would have been ready for the start of 2012-13 had the lockout not taken place.
“It’s a tough thing to go through,” Horton said of his concussion. “But I’m looking forward now. It’s in the past. I’m looking forward to being around the guys and having some fun.”
Horton will become an unrestricted free agent at year’s end.
The Bruins returned to Ristuccia Arena for the first time since the lockout’s conclusion. They had previously been skating at Boston University’s Agganis Arena.
They were wearing their usual Bruins practice jerseys. They had been wearing NHLPA-issued uniforms during the lockout.
GM Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien watched the practice. They had not attended the BU sessions.Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.