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“Now I am at that point again with the eye therapy instead of the vestibular stuff,” Pothier said. “I am kind of waiting to see if there is going to be another explosion or if this going to be the saving grace.”

What lies ahead

There is no shortage of success stories in the NHL when it comes to returning from career-threatening concussions. Cullen is back with the Hurricanes after missing the end of last season. So are Philadelphia’s Simon Gagne and Boston’s Patrice Bergeron; both missed most of last year.

But there are also tales of horror. Guys who came back to a game they felt they needed, leading to another concussion that brought devastating consequences.

“With this type of injury, there are a lot of mysteries involved,” Capitals general manager George McPhee said. “You just have to do what is in the best interest of the player and let him make his own decisions. If he wants to play and the doctors think it is OK, you let him play. If he doesn’t want to play, then don’t force it.”

Pothier is not practicing or playing with his teammates, but he has tried to stay involved. He hangs out with guys at the practice rink and attends every home game.

Karl Alzner praised Pothier for being a mentor to the 20-year-old top prospect. Pothier said he is more than willing to offer advice, but he also tries not to push it.

“It is hard, because you can be around the guys, but you’re not around the guys and hockey,” said Caps captain Chris Clark, who missed a large chunk of last season with a groin injury. “You don’t feel like you’re part of the same club sometimes. You’re in, but you’re not.”

Even as Pothier, 31, nears the one-year anniversary of his injury, the “To play or not to play” debate isn’t a priority. While fans, teammates or the media might speculate or want to know if he is coming back, Pothier, who’s in the third year of a four-year, $10 million contract, just isn’t worried about that right now.

The plan he and his wife, Gwen, have devised about his playing future is simple: When the time comes to make that decision, they will sit down and figure it out. For now, Pothier just wants to be able keep up with Jake and Luke without worrying about the repercussions.

“When I’m better - when I’ve skated with the team and I am back to 100 percent and I’m flying around - then, at that moment, I can sit back and say, ‘OK, now I am ready. Is it worth it?,’” Pothier said. “That’s the moment that I hope I can get to. I hope I get to that position and have the opportunity to make that decision.

“My goal right now is to be able to function like a normal person. I want to be able to go to the park and play tag football with my kids, and be able to run and chase them as fast and as hard as I want to and not feel like I am going to explode. That’s obviously the most important thing. And then if we can get me healthy enough to have a decision about hockey to make, then that would be great. … I am putting off that decision as long as I can. I don’t know if that is irresponsible or really smart. I haven’t figured it out.”