When Jay Beagle was close to returning to the Washington Capitals’ lineup in late December from a concussion suffered 2½ months earlier, he asked teammates Mathieu Perreault and John Carlson to hit him. Hard.
“I asked Carly and Perry both to run me pretty good in pregame skate. Just to get my head around it,” Beagle recalled. “I asked Perry, obviously, to do it first because he’s a little smaller. And then once I took it from him I was like ‘Okay, Carly. Now let’s have you.’ ”
Beagle joked that when big defenseman John Erskine was next, he got off the ice. But in all seriousness, the young forward welcomed the contact just to see how his head reacted.
Nicklas Backstrom is in that spot now. Cleared Saturday to participate fully in Caps practices, Monday was the first real workout with just about every player on the ice.
Backstrom suffered a concussion Jan. 3, and Monday was his first full practice since Jan. 6.
“I’m not a hundred percent yet, but I’m getting there,” the 24-year-old center said. “It takes a little time.”
Beagle is trying to help Backstrom along. During Monday’s practice, they were bumping along the boards, as Beagle jostled his teammate around along the boards.
“Me and Nicky were working on that today and he said he felt good and he felt strong and battling against him he felt really strong,” Beagle said. “And just kind of got to ease into it, take a few hits. It’s obviously not lining up at center and running at each other, we’re just bumping and you go from there, Hopefully he feels good and he keeps progressing. That’s all you can hope for.”
Mike Green, who missed significant time last season with a concussion, offered advice to his friend not to rush back.
“There’s a protocol. Nobody can tell him how he feels except for him,” the defenseman said. “Yeah, I did mention that to him: If you still have symptoms, take care of yourself because one hit and you’re back to square one. He’s done well. I think he’s doing well and we’ll see what happens.”