“I took two months off and worked out all summer and felt good,” Bouchard said during a recent home game. “The thing is during the summer, you don’t have any contact. I came back here, and in that first exhibition game I got hit.”
The eighth overall pick in the 2002 draft, Bouchard had a career-high 20 goals in the 2006-07 season and a career-high 50 assists in the 2007-08 season. He’s in the second year of a five-year contract worth $20.4 million.
“It’s just frustrating to not be able to play,” he said. “You cannot look back and say, ‘I should’ve done this.”’
The Wild aren’t counting on getting Bouchard back this season.
“The important thing for me is that he gets healthy and gets back to being the Pierre-Marc Bouchard of old,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “If we can get a happy, healthy Pierre-Marc Bouchard back for next season that’s great. To me it’s not a rush.”
That’s the view these days around the NHL, which like the NFL has become more concussion-conscious in recent years amid growing concerns about the long-term risk of the injuries in these hard-contact sports. The competition committee formed by the league and the players’ union last year discussed a rule designed to curtail hits to the head, but a consensus was not reached.
The NHL has assigned a group of general managers to study the issue, and a formal proposal for a rule change at next month’s GM meetings is possible. NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said Wednesday the competition committee’s agenda for this summer has not yet been set.
“I think it is safe to say that hits to the head will be a topic that the committee will be discussing further,” Weatherdon said.
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