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McPhee on a possible Pothier return: 'I wouldn't rule it out'

Anyone who has watched defenseman Brian Pothier practice the past couple of weeks can see that he's edging closer to a possible return from a 13-month layoff with a concussion.

GM George McPhee confirmed to me earlier tonight that Pothier's return could happen this season. McPhee stopped short of saying that Pothier has received medical clearance, but the 31-year-old has permission to begin ramping up his efforts to return to the lineup.

If Pothier continue to progress without a setback, McPhee said, it's possible he'll be assigned to Hershey to begin a conditioning stint.

"We'll see how he progresses," McPhee said. "We're going to do what's in his best interests. If he's got clearance to play and he wants to play, at that time he'll play."

Pothier could be of help to the Capitals, who have at times struggled on the blueline this season. But he's got to get through a couple more weeks of practice and then a stint with the Bears - all symptom free - before even considering a return.

"It's been a year and a half," McPhee said. "So he's missed a lot of time. We'll do what's right at the right time."


By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 26, 2009; 11:36 PM ET
 
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Comments

The plot thickens.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | February 26, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Hear that? That's the sound of $2.5 million in cap space floating away.

Posted by: jincargo | February 27, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Well, if you read the fine print and think about it the timing mentioned makes a return in the regular season unlikely. He needs medical clearance first. Let's suppose he gets it in a weeks' time. That's March 5. He needs 3 weeks practice (he hasn't even had any contact on the ice yet), that's March 26. He gets assigned to a 2 week conditioning stint. That's April 9. At that point only 3 days remain in the Caps regular season. The cap doesn't count in the playoffs because players don't get paid. If Pothier returns, it wouldn't be before the final 2 games of the regular season (at best). Would the team risk inserting a guy into the lineup at that point who hadn't played NHL hockey all year? Doubtful, but you can never have enough defensive depth in the playoffs, just in case.

Posted by: JBrooke4 | February 27, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Regardless Pothier doesn't help the PK and our PK needs to be fixed period. Yeah I'll take a healthy and well conditioned Pothier over a couple of our other Dmen but who would we rather have in the lineup, Alzner or Pothier? That's something to chew on. Me myself, I think I'd take Alzner as he's been skating at a professional lever for the past year. No disrespect to Pothier at all but this is a very fast game and if you're out a year+ I don't think a 2 week stint in Hersey will get you where you need to be for the playoffs.

Fix the PK GMGM!

Posted by: pokerface1208 | February 27, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Hmmmmm... I do believe Sombrero said it best!

Okay, so I'm a bit of a number geek and I really got a kick out of the playoff predictor Japers' Rink posted last season. I tried to update it to recognize division leaders and determining standings tie breakers, but couldn't come up with anything solid. But the dates & match-ups are right if anyone wants it:
http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pxjcxbsqQqfby71r1NwxweA&output=xls

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | February 27, 2009 1:10 AM | Report abuse

I have to be honest. Watching Pothier do this is like watching a heavyweight prize fighter staging a comeback after being beaten into a coma. For his health's sake, and for his family's sake, I wish he'd just hang the skates up.

The symptoms Tarik and others have described have been Serious. Brutal serious. Unable to get off the couch for a week because he tried to simply skate around? And this was MONTHS after the concussion?

Seriously dude. Retire. Please.

I have a real bad feeling about how it will end if he doesn't.

Posted by: large23220 | February 27, 2009 1:37 AM | Report abuse

If you have to miss playing hockey for a year and half from a concussion then you probably will never be strong enough to play pro sports again, just retire before you get hurt again and can not remember your kids names.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | February 27, 2009 2:22 AM | Report abuse

Whatever...this guy has real experience in the playoffs and always was a solid stay at home D'man with decent puck moving skills that the Caps lack right now...he deserves a chance to show that he can still play even if that chance doesn't come till next year but very few guys on the team now have shown that they would have the ability to beat him out of his spot if he hadn't suffered the injury...let him play withy the Bears and see what happens...If you were in the same position you would expect the same chance to show you can still play!!!

Posted by: tigger_caps_fan | February 27, 2009 3:14 AM | Report abuse

McPhee saying there's a chance = confirmation that he won't be back this year.

Posted by: OviToSemin | February 27, 2009 7:06 AM | Report abuse

It'd be nice to see him get in one game this year so it would add a year to his pension accounting. The Sabres did that for Teppo Numminen a couple of years ago after he had open heart surgery, making sure he got one game in. He returned the favor by taking less money to stay with the Sabres as opposed to going somewhere else.

One game on a $2.5M salary isn't going to break the salary cap. Plus once the playoffs start, there's no cap.

Posted by: MikeL-Caps91 | February 27, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Maybe just me, but I'd rather hear McPhee say that he's going to do what's in the TEAM's best interests (ie. they're not gonna play him just because he's cleared to do so, but that he actually belongs in the top 6 and will help in the playoffs... which I have serious doubts about).

Posted by: chombie13 | February 27, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

They should be ruling this out. I don't think it is good for the team chemistry, and it certainly isn't good for Brian Pothier to try to come back so soon after such a major head injury, to perhaps the most physical hockey a player will ever experience. The Caps and Pothier would be better off waiting and deciding whether he will be ready for the regular season next fall and making a decision this summer about whether to keep or deal him. I feel bad for the guy and what he's been through, but this is not a good move, trying to bring him back for the playoffs--for either party.

Posted by: eastporter | February 27, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Whatever...this guy has real experience in the playoffs and always was a solid stay at home D'man with decent puck moving skills that the Caps lack right now...he deserves a chance to show that he can still play even if that chance doesn't come till next year but very few guys on the team now have shown that they would have the ability to beat him out of his spot if he hadn't suffered the injury...let him play withy the Bears and see what happens...If you were in the same position you would expect the same chance to show you can still play!!!

Posted by: tigger_caps_fan | February 27, 2009 3:14 AM


bwaahahaaahaa! thanks for the laugh! I didn't think there would come a day where Brian Pothier was described as a "solid stay at home defenseman"

He's never been that at any stage of his career. He was signed as a puck moving defenseman who McPhee thought was hitting his prime and could chew up minutes. Poti ended up being the better of those 2 kinds of signings and Pothier did not even before his concussion.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 27, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

This is useless. He was horrible before the concussion. No chance he fits in this system. Buddy of mine is friends with Pothier and he admitted to him that the Caps payed way too much for his skill level when he was signed.

Posted by: PWA_FCVA | February 27, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"This is useless. He was horrible before the concussion. No chance he fits in this system. Buddy of mine is friends with Pothier and he admitted to him that the Caps payed way too much for his skill level when he was signed."

@PWA_FCVA

LOL @ that comment. A buddy of mine whose grandmother knows his aunt's cousin says this is nonsense. My buddy is far more credible than your buddy, BTW.

As for the statement that he was horrible before the concussion, that's simply not true. Boudreau had benched Pothier, and he came back and played some of his best hockey as a Cap before the concussion.

You let your dislike for the guy allow you to spread bogus rumors. I'm not a Pothier fan, and I think the Caps could have used that money better. However, it's lying to say he was horrible before the concussion. That Caps fan either has a bad memory, or he just hates on the guy.

And it's kind of hokey to see CapsFan claim they are looking out for Pothier's health. That's laughable, as CapsFan only cares about themselves. The only benefit they are looking at is salary exemption space for the team.

Posted by: pga6 | February 27, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

First time poster, STH in sec. 400 ...

For my first post, I will jump right into this one. As a former defenseman myself (thru Juvenile league) I always look for good and bad defensive plays and try to identify the defenseman. A lot of posters tend to forget that 1+ year ago, all of our developing young defensemen - Green, Schultz, Morrisonn, Jurcina, Erskine, and Eminger - ALL were regularly coughing up the puck and giving away free goals. Pothier almost never did. He was a veteran calming influence there. I considered him and Poti to be our top 2 defensive Dmen with the others far behind.

I agree with posters who question how ready he is, and how much he is risking. I know if/when he returns I will be cringing every time he gets hit for a while.

I think a conditioned and practiced Pothier would really help our defense a lot for the playoffs, and I hope it works out.

Posted by: Dick_in_Fairfax | February 27, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I didn't read all posts with great care. RE: Pothier's concussion. In a recent article, it was revealed that the nausea and motion problems were caused by the fact that his collision with the evil one severed some nerves somewhere in his vision processing systems. Once they understood this, they began to retrain his visual systems (the brain has some plasticity) and the nausea, etc diminished.

Posted by: WritingLight | February 27, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

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