WILMINGTON — Dougie Hamilton has missed four games with a concussion. But, as the Bruins defenseman said after practice Friday, it might have been five games since he suffered the first concussion of his career.
Hamilton, who was cleared for contact and declared himself “ready to play,” said the concussion occurred with approximately 16 minutes left in the third period of the Jan. 9 game against the Kings in Los Angeles. The 20-year-old defenseman finished that game, and also played in the next game, in San Jose Jan. 11. He has not played since.
“I wasn’t sure,” Hamilton said. “I’d never really had anything like that. I didn’t really know and I played the rest of that game and the next game, so I could still play, but I just didn’t feel right.
“And after the game in San Jose, I didn’t feel good at all, so I kind of knew after that game that there was something more than the usual thing. So that’s when I really realized it.”
His coach, though, said, “It’s complicated,” when asked about the timeline and the ability of a young player to recognize the symptoms of a head injury.
“Sometimes there’s headaches and there’s other types of headaches,” said Claude Julien. “Some of the headaches I think for him might have been caused by other things and the other part was concussion. I think that’s where it was a little bit — not confusing, but where it wasn’t 100 percent sure.”
Hamilton, who has been skating for about a week, said he has felt better each day, and that he passed his concussion test Thursday, thus enabling him to be cleared.
It has not yet been determined whether Hamilton will play against the Flyers on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, though it seems a possibility. It helps that Hamilton has missed less than two weeks, putting him closer to game shape.
Hamilton has had a difficult last two months. He suffered an MCL sprain Dec. 8 and missed 10 games, then returned, but had played in just five more before the concussion situation popped up.
“Frustrating, mostly,” he said. “Obviously you don’t want to be injured. Just kind of when I was getting back into the groove and stuff, you’re hurt again.
“It’s just frustrating, so hopefully I can get back and get back into the routine and rhythm and everything like that — just have fun again.”
The Bruins could use that. Adam McQuaid remains out with a leg injury and Dennis Seidenberg was lost for the season in late December, stretching the Bruins thin on the blue line.
Hamilton said the concussion symptoms have subsided, though he is still dealing with some neck issues. But it was very different during and after the San Jose game, in which he said he was lightheaded and nauseated. He returned to Boston and experienced “bad headaches and just always tired and down and mood stuff like that,” which turned into whiplash, neck, and jaw issues.
“It was pretty tough,” Hamilton said. “First couple days I guess were the toughest, frustrating with the headaches and everything. I kind of started to feel better, but still had my neck and headaches, and then when you don’t really do anything for a week, once you start skating again, it’s pretty hard to get back into shape and your legs aren’t feeling too good. I think now I feel pretty good and I feel a lot better about myself. Kind of relieved.”
Flyers pick it up
The Bruins are facing Philadelphia for the first time this season, a quirk of the new schedule. The Flyers started the season winless in their first three games, and then fired coach Peter Laviolette. Philadelphia has since played itself into playoff position, and sits tied for third with Columbus in the Metropolitan Division.
“They’ve been playing really, really good since the coaching change and have gotten themselves back in a playoff picture,” said Milan Lucic. “You see a guy like [Claude] Giroux, their captain, he’s found his game again. When he has his game he’s a pretty scary player. I think we’re always excited for this matchup. Obviously Philly, there’s some history there. The teams are, I think, pretty good reflections of their cities. When they get together, it’s always a battle.”
Chris Kelly has also been fully cleared for contact. The center has been out for 19 games since fracturing his fibula Dec. 7 against the Penguins. He returned to practice Thursday and will travel with the team this weekend . . . McQuaid is the only player not traveling with the team to Philadelphia and New York. He is day to day with a leg injury . . . The Bruins took two days off, then practiced each of the last two days, during their longest break between games left this season (other than the Olympic break). “I liked the pace of our practices so far, so you could tell those two days were good for our players,” Julien said. “Now it’s a matter of bringing it to Philly.”