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Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Ben Smith practices after hit to head

By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com

Chicago Blackhawks forward Ben Smith returned to practice for the first time since suffering a head injury in a preseason game last Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said he's still "day to day" but could play in Friday's regular season opening game in Dallas.

Smith says he's feeling better but has not been cleared for contact.

"You really have to be honest with yourself and honest with them (the Hawks) about how you're feeling," Smith said after practice Tuesday. "We'll see about Friday."

Smith was hit in the head by Brendan Smith of the Red Wings as he was moving towards the net on a mini-break away early in the third period. Ben Smith intimated he didn't remember much after that until he returned to the dressing room. Knowing how much concussions have been in the news and how many players have been out for long periods of time because of them, Smith feels fortunate it wasn't worse.

"These things are dangerous," he said. "It could take six or seven months or it could take a couple of weeks. You never really know. You just try to do the right things to get healthy and hope that it works."

Smith recalls getting the puck from Dave Bolland and making a "quick play to the middle and that's about it."

Brendan Smith did reach out to Ben Smith to apologize.

"He sent me a text," Ben Smith said. "It was nice of him. I respect that. It didn't seem like it was on purpose."

Smith wouldn't say how many concussions he's had but admitted it's "more than one."

"As long as I'm healthy coming back from it then that's OK," Smith said.

Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com.