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McAvoy Makes Stride Toward Returning

December 4, 2018

Boston Bruins' Charlie McAvoy skates during a Sept. 29 game against the Philadelphia Flyers. AP PHOTO Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

By Marisa Ingemi

Boston Herald

The Bruins might be getting closer to getting back one of their most important players.

After sitting out since mid-October with a concussion, Charlie McAvoy took contact in practice for the first time Monday, just two days after speaking to the media for the first time and describing his process since being injured.

There’s no timetable for his return, but getting on the ice and up to speed with the rest of the team is one of the final steps towards getting back to game action.

“He’s going to have to get used to bodies around him and banging,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We try to simulate some of that in practice. Some of it is five on five drills, we’ll have at it and the more comfortable he’s at, the closer he’ll be. It’s good news, it’s probably the last step.”

McAvoy played in just seven games before taking a hit in Edmonton that left him concussed. Since then, the Bruins have dealt with a slew of injuries on the blueline, but McAvoy’s style of play specifically has been missed.

“He can be a one-man breakout, he’s effective getting it to net and to the middle of the ice,” said Cassidy. “Gives us a few cleaner entries and rushes. In the neutral zone, he’s pretty good at that seam when it’s there, getting the forwards going. I think that’s the part of his game we miss the most. I think the shutdown part is good as well, we put some guys in the lineup that have handled it okay, but it’s the breakouts and first-pass execution that is his bread and butter.”

The defenseman will travel with the team to Florida for their two-game road set but there’s no indication if he has a chance to play at the end of the trip. They do have back-to-back games over the weekend, at home against Toronto before heading into Ottawa, as a part of a five-game stretch against divisional foes.

The sooner he can return, the sooner those elements Cassidy preached will be back on the blueline. But, with a concussion -- the first of McAvoy’s career -- it has to be handled gently.

That meant contact for the first time in weeks, and waiting to see how he reacts.

“It’s been over a month now, so to get back in there and participate in the three-on-three and full-ice drills and five-on-five drills and just play hockey.... Those are the things I missed,” he said.

Unlike a regular body injury, a concussion comes with unique symptoms that make it difficult at times to track progress, which McAvoy has dealt with during his process.

He’s been skating the past couple of weeks and recently rejoined the team, and it’s essentially been his call each time h’s made the next step.

Next up, it’s getting into a game, but as he deals with repercussions from his first contact practice, he’s still learning what the recovery process is.

“Going through this my first time, there’s certain things I don’t know as far as when you come back,” said McAvoy. “What happens if you do feel something bad, is it actually a symptom or is it just anxiety. It’s a heck of an injury when you start playing around with your brain.”

McAvoy might not play during the road trip, but his return seems to be approaching. The Bruins could use any returners they can get, especially on the banged-up blueline.

“I need to be completely prepared to be ready to be a pivotal part of the team in order to help us win,” he said. “I feel like that day is close.”

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