As much as Jay Beagle wanted to play as soon as he got stitched up after his fight with Arron Asham, medial personnel stopped him. They did the same the next day when he was all geared up, ready to practice.
Beagle understands why.
“It’s worked,” said the Capitals forward who as of Thursday hadn’t skated since getting the concussion. “It’s hard right away because you want to get back. And then once they explain it to you, and they’re like, ‘OK, if we wait a little bit, it’ll be more beneficial in the long run for yourself down the road.’ That’s why they’re here – for our best interest.”
The cloud of uncertainty around concussions and head injuries is part of the reason why Beagle has to lean on trainers and doctors to make decisions for him.
“It’s an injury that they probably will never know much about,” he said. “Really, how much can you figure out on the brain? It’s basically how you feel.”
Beagle isn’t the only one happy he didn’t have the choice to get back on the ice immediately. Coach Bruce Boudreau was asked if he was glad the NHL had protocol in place to take the choice away from him.
“Absolutely. Rather than me make the decision, absolutely,” he said. “I don’t want that responsibility.”
Even players like Brooks Laich, who aren’t fans of the protocol keeping them away, understand it’s there for a reason.
Boudreau said he never had a concussion – that he knew of – because back in his playing days they weren’t identified. But the odd, unbalanced onset of symptoms makes it a very different illness.
“If you feel good you want to get out there, but you need somebody for your own protection to tell you you’re not ready to go yet,” Boudreau said.
Beagle, at this point, understands even better.