WILMINGTON, Mass. -- While there was a hubbub of excitement over the news that Nathan Horton skated for more than 30 minutes on his own Wednesday, he was no closer to a return than he was in the two months prior to that.
The Boston Bruins officially announced on Wednesday that Horton will miss the entire Stanley Cup playoffs after suffering a what was called a "mild concussion" on Jan. 22 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Horton missed the final 36 games of the regular season and seven weeks of action after suffering the head injury. Those close to the power forward tell CSNNE.com he was never close to a return.
Here are a couple of reasons why: Horton was still weeks away from potentially practicing with his teammates entering the playoffs and even if he didnt have a single setback wouldnt have been ready to go until the final few rounds of the playoffs.
It was unrealistic to think that a tentative, healthy Horton would be a better option than battle-hardened Bruins wingers that had already passed through the first few postseason rounds.
To put it in further perspective, in 2007-08 when Patrice Bergeron suffered his serious concussion and harbored hopes of returning for the playoffs, he had been skating hard since the beginning of March. He might have been ready for the second round but says in retrospect he was glad that he wasnt tossed into playoff action before he was ready.
Theres also this startling fact: If Horton had returned to this springs playoffs for the Bruins and suffered another concussion, it would have been his third major head injury for the 26-year-old in less than a full year.
Thats the kind of risk that can put a players entire future at risk. Its also the kind of mistake the Bruins made in rushing Marc Savard along for the postseason two years ago against the Flyers. Savard was never the same again after playing in the playoffs against Philadelphia.
The Bruins would be making the same kind of error in rushing Horton back just because hed had a few good weeks.
Hortons biggest priority is not returning for this year's postseason. It's returning to full health next season, scoring goals, and giving Boston a power forward to complement Milan Lucic and David Krejci.