Minutes after getting knocked out by a left hook from Arron Asham, Jay Beagle was ready
"As soon as they stitched me up, I was like, 'OK, let's go,'" he said. "I'm here to play hockey so I want to play."
But the NHL's concussion protocol kept him out that night as the Capitals wrapped up a win over the Penguins. And the next day when he wanted to step on the ice — and every day since. But in his first conversation with reporters since the concussion — three weeks to the day of the Oct. 13 injury — Beagle said he was feeling "great" and hopes to skate Friday, pending baseline tests.
The 26-year-old said in addition to not being able the play, the hard part has been not being able to pinpoint what's wrong.
"For things like head injuries, not many people know about them," Beagle said. "That's the thing that's scary about them: doctors, there's MRI's they can do. It's not a broken bone where you can go, 'Hey, it's broken here, put a cast on it. '"
Because of that, as much as Beagle wanted to play right away and get back into the lineup, he understands why team doctors and trainers held him out.
"You've got to be cautious with those things and make sure that you're feeling 100 percent before going back and doing anything," Beagle said. "You don't want to have something else that triggers it and then you're out for the season or a couple months. A couple weeks doesn't seem like very long compared to a season or a couple months."
Beagle claimed he still didn't think it was a concussion, but Caps coach Bruce Boudreau — unprompted — used the word when talking about Beagle's injury that has cost him almost the first full month of the season.
"When you have concussions, there's the protocol of what you have to go through and he's done everything," Boudreau said. "So now the next one is skating."
That could come Friday or some other time this weekend while the Caps are on their road trip to face the Carolina Hurricanes and then the New York Islanders.
Beagle said he has been symptom-free for a good bit of time.
"There's no symptoms. First couple days I had a little bit of headaches, but I think if that happens you're going to have that happen," he said. "It was only lasting 10 minutes and I was feeling good."
This is not Beagle's first concussion, though that's not something he said will affect his game or his return. But because of the mystery nature of the injury, he has leaned on people like trainer Greg Smith to tell him what he can and cannot do.
"If it was me, i'd play through everything every time," Beagle said. "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."
And while it would be unrealistic to think Beagle could return quickly, he hopes it won't take long when he's finally back on the ice and working out with teammates. And those teammates, especially a good friend like Karl Alzner, can't wait for the next sign of progress.
"He seems to be in good spirits now and on the mend," Alzner said. "That's the main thing that he's really watching everything that he does and really taking care of himself."
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