Horton feels good on ice nearly year after concussion

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Horton feels good on ice nearly year after concussion

It was a welcomed sight to have Nathan Horton skating with his Bruins teammates last week when things moved to Ristuccia Arena. It was an encouraging sight when Horton mixed it up with his Bruins teammates in contact drills around the net during their first training camp practice at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon.

There was no hesitation or backing for the 27-year-old Horton, who is now almost a year removed from the Jan. 22 concussion that ended the 2011-12 season for him after Tom Sestito clipped him with a blindside hit. The Bruins right wing might have been a little rusty given that its been nearly a calendar year since hes played in a game, but he looked pretty comfortable skating with normal linemates David Krejci and Milan Lucic.

Both wingers acknowledged they have some work to do, however, as neither Lucic nor Horton played in any games during the 119-day lockout. So theyre essentially playing catch up with Krejci, who produced at a high offensive level for his Pardubice club in the Czech League.

I was really excited. I felt really good. Weve still got a lot of work to do, but you just keep pressing forward to get yourself in the best shape you can, said Horton, who missed the final 36 regular season games last year. Its a short week so you cant go out and kill yourself in practice. Once you drop the puck for the games you need to get it going. Every game is going to mean something.

Ive been waiting a long time to get into contact drills and I felt good out there. Its just nice to be back and be able to do that.

One of the few upsides to the NHL lockout was the rest time it gave to injured players working their way back. Though Horton would have been cleared to play in September had there been no work stoppage, the extra time gave the 6-foot-2, 229-pounder even more peace of mind that any concussion issues are in the rear view mirror.

So now the Bruins management team and coaching staff will be anxious to see what Horton can bring them as he approaches unrestricted free agency following the shortened 2013 season.

The lockout was a silver lining for Horton because hes had that much more time to recover, said Peter Chiarelli. Now weve had enough rest, so were no longer fatigued from a Stanley Cup win. I think it just speaks to motivation that these guys are in a short season, so anything can happen.

Its a sprint and lets get going. Its more that the longer theyve been out now, the more motivated they are going to be.

Its been quite the year for Horton. It started with a hellish concussion in January, but also included the birth of his second child over the summer that ostensibly kept him from potentially skating overseas like so many other NHL players. Now its a new year and Horton is again back on the ice, and hes looking for the happy hockey story this time around after working hard to get to this point.

Report: Ainge wouldn't trade Nets pick for Butler, but would for George

Report: Ainge wouldn't trade Nets pick for Butler, but would for George

Will the Celtics part with the right to Brooklyn’s 2017 first-round pick in order to get a star before Thursday’s trade deadline? 

MORE TRADE TALK

Citing a pair of NBA executives, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News wrote this week that Danny Ainge’s willingness to trade the pick should be in doubt.

Sola named Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and Paul George as potential targets, adding that the C’s might include the latter.   

Wrote Isola: 

Two executives doubt that Ainge, who historically plays it close to the vest, would give up the Nets pick in a deal for Butler. However, Ainge might consider it in a trade for George, the Pacers-free agent-to-be who has expressed doubts over re-signing with the Pacers.

‘With Danny, no one ever knows what he might do,' said the executive. ‘He's one of the best. If he thinks he can make a run at the Cavs this season, considering all the injuries Cleveland has had, I can see him making a move.

‘Everyone is talking about Butler to Boston but Danny and Larry Bird go way back. Paul George could be the sleeper.’

This season, the 26-year-old George is averaging 22.3 points 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game. 

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

LeGarrette Blount knows where he wants to be for 2017. Ever since he re-joined the Patriots in 2014 following a short stay in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound back has been very open about how he wants to play out the rest of his career in New England. 

Those feelings haven't changed, even as he faces free-agency after having recorded the best season of his seven-year career.

"I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind, knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England," he told NFL Total Access on Monday. "I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I've become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is.

"We'll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I'm in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to."

Blount finished 2016 with career-highs in attempts (299) yards (1,161) and touchowns (18). His ability to help the Patriots close games in the fourth quarter was notable throughout the course of the season, and he was among the most effective goal-line backs in the league. His 18 rushing scores are a franchise record.

Toward the end of the season, as Dion Lewis worked his way back into the Patriots offense, Blount had his workload cut into, and his fumble in the Super Bowl was a near-catastrophic moment -- his devastated reaction to which was caught expertly by NFL Films. But a big-picture view of Blount's year would reveal that he  posted the most prodictive "big back" season the Patriots have had in more than a decade.

Blount signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after seeing his 2015 prematurely ended by way of a hip injury. He turned 30 in December.