Stars center Brad Richards isn’t sure when he’ll return from the head injury he suffered on February 13, but he does know he’s going to have be patient with the process of getting healthy.
Richards was injured in the final minute of a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets when he was hit in the neutral zone by Blue Jackets forward Samuel Pahlsson. He’s missed three games with what the Stars are calling concussion-like symptoms. He didn’t practice Monday in Frisco.
"I'm not thinking when I am back yet. I am just trying to get healthy," Richards said. "It's the first time I've been through something like this and it's not fun. You have your moments during the day when you thing you're turning the corner and then in another couple hours things aren’t that good. It's a process and patience is what I am being told is the biggest thing I've got to have right now and let Mother Nature kind of fix itself with my brain or head or whatever is going on."
The Stars are preaching patience as well. Stars coach Marc Crawford talked about Richards' status following Monday's practice.
“It largely is how Brad is going to feel each and every day, and that’s kind of changing," Crawford said. "We hope he continues to improve each and every day, but at this stage all you can do is question him when he comes in. He’s talking to our doctors all the time. He is seeing improvement, but not to the point where he is ready to rejoin the team on the ice. It is what it is. We’re hopeful that it improves, but I don't think throwing undue pressure on the situation is going to make it better. We just have to allow him to heal and feel better.''
Richards talked about some of the symptoms he has experienced since the hit.
“It’s nothing crazy or out of this world. The thing that scared to me to start was lightheadedness. That’s what put the red flag up,” Richards said. “But that seems to be getting better. The obvious thing is headaches, but every day I wake up I hope it’s getting better. It definitely hasn’t gotten worse.”
And he talked about dealing with this particular kind of injury.
“It's obviously the most frustrating. It’s nothing to do with really frustrating, it’s your brain. It put things in perspective,” Richards said. “It's not a bone, it's not a hip I'm going to go get fixed. It's your brain. So whether it's frustrating or not, this is the one thing where you have to make sure everything is right. … The medical staff and Joe (Nieuwendyk) and Crow (Marc Crawford) have been very good with me, talking with me. No one is doing the wrong things, it’s being handled the right way. Hopefully this is the week that things get better and I start skating. If not then I’ll take my time.”
Richards also talked about the hit by Pahlsson, a hit he remembers well and a hit he questions.
“I remember everything. I didn't go out. It obviously stung me. I knew right away it was a good shot to the jaw. I’ve been hit like that a lot and you wake up the next day and nothing is wrong. I did get a couple of red flags that night and we wanted to monitor it a couple days. We’re still here. Nothing was called and nothing was done, but he threw his elbow into my jaw as he was going past. Nobody skates with his elbow up at head level, and my head wasn't down at his waist. But it is what it is.''
Benn, Barch and Burish practice
Benn has been out about four weeks and has missed the last ten games. Barch and Burish both have been out two-and-a-half weeks and have missed seven games.
“We're going to have to check with our medical people to see if they are going to get cleared,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “Nobody has been cleared to play yet. They've been cleared to practice and it was nice to see them out there. You could see we had a little bit more life, a little more juice, a little bit more energy. “
Whether any of them will be ready to play on Tuesday against New Jersey is up to the doctors.
"I think there is a chance some of them may play, but we won't know until we hear from the doctors,” Crawford said. “They all think that they're ready, but they don't have the call on this."
Defenseman Nicklas Grossman, who has missed the last three games with a hip injury, did not practice Monday and is not expected to play Tuesday.
Langenbrunner faces old team
Tuesday’s game against the Devils marks the first time that Stars forward Jamie Langenbrunner will be facing his former team since the trade that brought him to Dallas from New Jersey on January 7.
“Well, anytime you play an old team it’s a little odd at first, especially since I started the year the year there and had been there for eight or nine years,” said Langenbrunner, who became captain of the Devils in 2007. “I think once the game gets going and you get into it, it’s like any other game. We’re playing against a team that’s playing extremely well. It’ll be a good test for us.”
New Jersey has won seven straight, has points in ten straight (9-0-1) and is 15-1-2 in its last 18 games.
“We have to have a singular focus and it has to be on our next opponent. It’s got to be the two points we can get that game. I appreciate our guys. Our guys are a group that we think that going into every game has the opportunity to win. That’s where our focus is right now, looking in this room right now and saying let’s get the effort that we need to win this one game. We can’t go any further than that. Maybe that’s been somewhat of our problem, looking at the race and looking at where we’ve got to get to instead of what is right in front of our face, which is the challenge of the New Jersey Devils and doing everything we possibly can to win that game.”
Stars coach Marc Crawford