Capitals right wing Jay Beagle has not skated since Oct. 13, when his teammates helped him off the ice following a two-punch knockdown at the hands of Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Arron Asham.
Since then Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau has insisted Beagle is doing fine and has refrained from using the word concussion to describe his condition, telling reporters to infer what they want.
Beagle did not make the clubs trip to Edmonton, where they will face the Oilers on Thursday night, followed by a game in Vancouver on Saturday.
So what exactly is keeping Beagle off the ice?
I dont think its a concussion, Beagle told the Capitals website. Obviously, when you go down like that your head doesnt feel that great the next couple days.
Beagle said hes been monitored daily by Capitals athletic trainer Greg Smith, who has insisted he stay of the ice.
We were making sure everything is going to clear up, Beagle said. I feel great and now its just a whole bunch of doctor stuff to clear. Ive been wanting to get back out there, but Smittys been real cautious with it, doing his job. We dont want to turn something thats a two-week thing into a two-month thing.
Last season, Penguins star Sidney Crosby made the mistake of returning to game action four days after being concussed by former Capitals forward David Steckel. He suffered a second blow to the head in that game against Tampa and has not played a game in nearly 10 months.
The Capitals don't want the same thing to happen to Beagle and, whether they are calling it a concussion or not, they should be applauded for taking a cautious approach to his injury.
As for Ashams claim that Beagle challenged him to the fight, Beagle said Asham shook his gloves as if to say, Lets go. Beagle said he lost his grip on Ashams jersey during the fight and that when he tried to re-grip, he left himself vulnerable to Ashams thunderous right hands to Beagles mouth.
As for Ashams taunting on his way to the penalty box, Beagle brushed it off.
I have no thoughts on it, he said. Its an emotional game and afterward he apologized, so its history.
Beagle said hell return to the ice as soon as he received final clearance from the teams doctors, but would not specify when that will be.