As the Nashville Predators gathered at Bridgestone Arena Wednesday afternoon to complete their routine end of season processes of meetings, exit physical exams, and cleaning out of lockers, the players took some time to meet with the media before they headed their separate ways until September’s training camp.
Even though he had not played a game since January 16th, defenseman Francis Bouillon was there along with the rest of his teammates.
Prior to the player media availability, General Manager David Poile, Head Coach Barry Trotz, and CEO Jeff Cogen had a news conference to reflect back on the just completed season as well as look ahead to 2011-12.
In his remarks, Poile sounded cautiously optimistic that Bouillon was showing some improvement as he recovers from the concussion he sustained in a mid-January game in Chicago.
Early in the game played at the United Center, Bouillon was hit hard into the end boards in the Nashville zone by Chicago’s Troy Brouwer at the 7:30 mark of the first period. Bouillon fell to the ice, and after play was whistled down, he skated to the bench in obvious discomfort. Bouillon went directly to the Predators’ locker room and did not return to the contest. Brouwer was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for boarding.
Wednesday, Bouillon said that the battle with Post-concussion syndrome has been difficult.
“It is tough to say,” he said. “It is still up and down. Since the start of my concussion, it has been a lot of disappointment. I could be feeling good for a week, and as soon as I would start to bike, I had three or four setbacks.”
Since the injury, he has been doing a lot of work in the pool.
“The pool is more like stretching,” Bouillon said. “To test your symptoms, you have to do more, and as soon as I do more and push more, the symptoms get back right away.”
His latest setback occurred in late April.
“Two weeks ago, I was pretty intense on the bike, pushed my heart rate pretty hard, but when they put me on the ice right after that, same thing, my headaches came back and I couldn’t be active anymore,” Bouillon said.
As if the physical side of being injured was not enough of a source of frustration for Bouillon, being out of the lineup has been really difficult for the blueliner who plays a whole lot bigger and tougher than his compact frame and affable off-ice demeanor would suggest.
“The playoffs are the best time of the year,” he said. “I remember last year in the series against Chicago, it was pretty intense and I had a pretty good series. You always want to be there. It was tough.”
Despite all of the seemingly bad news, Bouillon is hopeful that when September comes around, his number 51 jersey will be hanging in his locker stall when training camp begins.
“Hopefully I am going to be good this summer and start training the same time as everybody and get back in training camp totally symptom free,” he said.
For both his play on the ice and his generosity away from it, Bouillon was Nashville’s nominee for the Masterton Trophy this season.