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Pothier: "I've made some pretty good gains"

While I was waiting for Shaone Morrisonn to emerge from the weight room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex this afternoon, I unexpectedly bumped into defenseman Brian Pothier, who, as you know, has been pretty much invisible around here since suffering a devastating concussion in January.

Pothier was interviewed by his hometown paper earlier this summer, but this was my first channce to catch up with him about his injury, recovery and prognosis.

The 31-year-old told me that he's encouraged by the progress he's made recently and remains hopeful that he'll be able to resume his career - at some point.

He said he's still suffering from vision and balance issues but over the past four weeks he's made marked improvement for the first time since being crushed by Milan Lucic in Boston eight months ago. He's been able to workout more strenuously, jog lightly and ride a stationary bike. He still hasn't been on skates but the fact that he's not "leveled" every time he breaks a sweat is a big step in the right direction.

That said, Pothier wasn't able to put a time frame on his return.

"I'm trying to get back, trying to get healthy and sort things out," he said. "I've had a tough time trying to get stuff straight. I'm still having post concussion symptoms, some vision stuff and the vision stuff affects your balance and equilibrium."

"People always ask me what it's like to have a concussion. It's so hard to articulate. My visual, balance and coordination has been a little goofy. I'm trying to work through that. It's been improving the last month, so I've made some pretty good gains."

"I plateaued a bit over the summer. But now I can get my heart rate up and sustain that. I've done some weights, a bit of running - not a lot - just to see where I'm at. It's been progressing."

"It's such a vague thing - I can't even put a time on it. Right now I'm kind of out of shape. It's going to take some time to get in shape. Even if I was clear and free today, it would take me some time to get into shape."

Pothier's improvement the past month contrasts sharply with how he was feeling late last spring, when the slightest bit of physical activity would knock him off his feet for a few days or longer.

"When it first happened, I had some really bad symptoms," he said. "When I challenged myself, like running up stairs or chasing the kids in the backyard, or just visual stimulation, that was challenging for me. Then I would have setbacks and would shutdown for a week at time."

"But now I can push a little harder and the recovery time is a little shorter. It's a process. May was frustrating because I would say to myself, 'Man, I've got to get better.' So I would push myself. Then I would end up on the couch, totally shutdown."

Pothier didn't sound like a player who will be ready to start playing in the near future, which, of course, we already knew. But he also didn't leave me with the impression that he's done.

"Has retirement crossed my mind?" he said. "Of course it has. We have two little kids, and when you can't chase them around the yard you have to ask yourself if it's worth it to do this. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about it. But it's not something that's on my mind right now. My focus is on getting healthy."

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  September 2, 2008; 2:08 PM ET
 
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Next: Catching Up With Shaone Morrisonn

Comments

great news for Pothier that he seems likely to get back to a normal life

Posted by: JIM | September 2, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Good luck Poth....There is more to life then hockey...Health first.

We should all respect the risk these guys put themselves through when they ask for a big contract.

Posted by: SA-Town | September 2, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Good luck Poth . . .

Posted by: WhooHoo | September 2, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Tough luck for Pothier but at least he is having some improvement. Obviously he'll be LTIR for most of the season. Maybe back in time for playoffs as added defensive depth?

Posted by: usiel | September 2, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, did you ask him what he was doing here?

Posted by: wanngo | September 2, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I really hope he gets healthy, but I have to wonder if he should ever play again. If future injuries are likely to be worse... well, it sounds pretty terrible already. The best outcome I could imagine is he can safely play again, but that seems sorta improbbable. Glad I'm not the doc who has to make that call.

Posted by: false_cause | September 2, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

This sounds really, really bad. If he recovers and gets back on the ice, what happens if he gets hit again? Milan Lucic isn't the only guy in the NHL who brings the thunder. Hang 'em up Pots, for your own sake.

Posted by: Ben | September 2, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

bad memory, but didn't Pothier skate off the ice after Lucic hit him? I only vaguely remember the hit, was it dirty, and does it deserve retribution in the coming year?

Posted by: reekie | September 2, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I don't think he really has a place here anymore. The defense is stacked.

But I hope he can get back to the point where he is playing again. He's worked very hard at it and I really would like to see him in some NHL uniform again.

Posted by: Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) | September 2, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

@ Heath Shuler

Please re think that statement. Our defense is stacked? Mike Green seems to be a bona fide offensive defenseman. Poti is solid (sorry JSchon), MO is average, Alzner is unknown (I sure think he'll be solid, but he's not winning the Norris this year...), Schultz is still unknown, Erskine should be a 7th man, Lepisto is awful, and Jurcina is one of the worst defenseman in the league.

Posted by: reekie | September 2, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Reekie,

I remember thinking "Ouch!" when I saw the hit, but don't recall thinking it was dirty.

We played them at least twice after that hit and no one went after Lucic (except Brads (?) dropped gloves with him).

Posted by: Steve R | September 2, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

How is Lepisto awful? whats he played 10 games??

Posted by: Dan L | September 2, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the great report, Tarik. Glad to hear he's doing better, but I hope he is considering options other than hockey for his future. Those two kids need him healthy.

@reekie - I could have sworn he not only skated off after the hit from Lucic, but actually finished his shift. Though I may be remembering that wrong.

Posted by: Jill | September 2, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The hit on Pothier definitely wasn't dirty and it sure as hell wasn't pretty (for Caps fans):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQVGuI9BqVQ

Scoot ahead to the 1:00 mark. He's back out on the ice playing later in the game.

Posted by: keef | September 2, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

There are reports that Mike Gartners 17 year old daughter is pregnant.

Im not sure he is ready to accept the responsibilities of having his number retired.

Posted by: John McCain | September 2, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I will win Norris this year if they keep John Erskine away from me!

Posted by: Karl Alzner | September 2, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"Pretty good gains" my @ss. Pothier's done.

Why is he even here?? Are we still paying him?! Leave already.

Posted by: Danny | September 2, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

@ Danny -- what is your issue? The guy is on LTIR, so he isn't affecting the CAP'S cap numbers. If he is getting paid for an on the job injury, what's it to you? The guy's life took a termendous turn for the worse in the blink of an eye, going from multi-million dollar contract playing professional athlete to barely able to play with his kids -- from doing his job. I'm glad that the guy can play with his kids again and get back to a normal life, perhaps without ever doing what he has dedicated his life to.

Posted by: JIM | September 2, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

@John McCain

LMAO

Posted by: Bubba | September 2, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Looks like we made it. First and foremost,glad to hear Brain is doing better. Best of luck with everything.

UPDATE from the Gulf: Thanx for all the thoughts and prayers,we dodged one this time. Had lots of wind and rain,but we will be o.k. Got our eyes on three more potential storms. I'll be glad when we only have one "hurricane" to deal with (the one in Carolina)
Thanx again ! Rock the Red & Let's Go CAPS!

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | September 2, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

2 comments:

Re Pothier. 50/50 he's back this year. If he can't get up to the maximum heart rate without getting dizzy, he won't survive in the league. If that goes away great, but it hasn't yet.

Re the rest of the defense: I think Lepisto is in the schultz "wait and see" category. He might be good, he might not. Erskine and Jurcina are terrible and should be sent to another league. Jurcina does have a heavy shot, though.

And a bonus comment: Jason Campbell is no Heath Schuler. Heath Schuler is no Gus Ferrotte or Mark Brunell....

Posted by: old time hockey | September 2, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

2 comments:

Re Pothier. 50/50 he's back this year. If he can't get up to the maximum heart rate without getting dizzy, he won't survive in the league. If that goes away great, but it hasn't yet.

Re the rest of the defense: I think Lepisto is in the schultz "wait and see" category. He might be good, he might not. Erskine and Jurcina are terrible and should be sent to another league. Jurcina does have a heavy shot, though.

And a bonus comment: Jason Campbell is no Heath Schuler. Heath Schuler is no Gus Ferrotte or Mark Brunell....

Posted by: old time hockey | September 2, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC):
The defense is stacked?!? I think not! Pothier was one of (if not the) best Dmen that we had. We still need a good S@H Dman (or two). It would be nice if Pothier could make a full recovery and return, but based on his recovery to date, I wouldn't bank on it.

SA-Town (from the previous thread):
If Olie accepts the Caps retiring his #?!? Why wouldn't he accept?

Posted by: Boo! | September 2, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Capsfannmiss:
Glad to hear all is well! I did not realize that you actually lived down there. Stay safe and stay dry ... and Rock the Red in good ol' Miss! :-)

Posted by: Boo! | September 2, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see that our little non-skating troll buddy hasn't weighed in with some trite comment about "playing through it."

I'll be surprised if he's back this season at all.

Posted by: bigonetimer | September 2, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Our defense would be better off WITH Pothier, but we can't afford him salary cap wise if he is healthy enough to come back. If Pothier is indeed healthy, who do you ship out? Jurcina or Erskine presumably so the net increase would be in the 2 million-2.25 million range. You would need to decrease the foward payroll by trading and calling up an AHLer to make up the difference.

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | September 2, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Sombrero:
I agree, but I think it is a moot point.

Posted by: Boo! | September 2, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

@reekie

Solid poo, is still poo. Poti is solid poo...

Lepisto is awful? He barely played for the big team and was outstanding in the AHL and for team Finland.

That comment is as reckless as me calling Poti solid poo.

Posted by: JSchon | September 3, 2008 2:13 AM | Report abuse

Jurcina's first season here looked like he was shaping up to be pretty good... I'm not willing to write him off just yet, though it's looking like he's running out of time. Pothier finally seemed to be hitting his stride when he went down last season, which is unfortunate. I'd love to see him back and playing in tip-top shape, but health and family have to come first. I'm not sure he wants to risk another concussion.

Posted by: Murshawursha | September 3, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Tarik, you didn't literally "bump into" Pothier, did you?

Sounds like the Capitals will have to search for another slew-footed, American-born defenseman whose name surname begins with "Pot-".

Posted by: P-Mac | September 4, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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