If it was up to Jay Beagle, he would have been back on the ice in Pittsburgh shortly after coming to his senses following a knockdown at the hands of Arron Asham back on Oct. 13.
As soon as they stitched me up, I said, OK, lets go. Im here to play hockey. Lets play, Beagle said Thursday outside the Capitals locker room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
Ten years ago, a player might have been able to talk his way back onto the ice after getting knocked out in a fight. But with new guidelines instituted by the NHL and its players association, the Capitals took every precaution with Beagle.
On Friday, Beagle is hoping to pass baseline testing that allows him to skate for the first time since getting knocked out by Asham. He said he is hoping to play about a week after he begins skating.
Thats a great sign, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. When you have a concussion theres a protocol to what you have to go through and hes done everything. The next one is skating.
Beagle said he had every intention of practicing with the Capitals the day after his fight with Asham. He attended a video session and a team meeting that morning, but was kept off the ice by Capitals athletic trainer Greg Smith.
I was here at the rink saying, Lets go. I feel fine. I feel great, he said. And they wanted to wait and see. Thats why theyre here, for our best interests. If it was me Id play through anything anytime.
Beagle said he experienced headaches that lasted about 10 minutes in the first three days after the fight, but has not had any symptoms since.
I didnt think it was a concussion, I still dont think it was a concussion, Beagle said.
Ive been feeling great and theyve just been really holding me back making sure this doesnt turn into something worse.
For the past three weeks Beagle has been restricted to off-ice conditioning and weight lifting. In hindsight, he said he appreciates the Capitals cautious approach to his head injury.
When you go down like that its kind of scary, he said. You dont want to come back too early, get hit and turn something into a two-month or maybe even a season thing. You dont know with head injuries.
As for the fight with Asham and his antics after the knockdown Asham spread his arms like a referee signaling a knockout and rested his cheek on his hands as if to say he put Beagle to sleep -- Beagle said he has no hard feelings for the Penguins forward.
Theres a lot of emotion, especially in a fight, Beagle said. Its over.
Beagle said he wont change the aggressive style he plays because of one fight and is anxious to get back on the ice and get his skating conditioning where it needs to be.
It wont change my game at all, he said. That stuff happens. You get hit in the jaw a certain way, you go down. It wont change my game or anything. If Ive got to fight Ill fight and hopefully that never happens again. But thats hockey.