Marc-Andre Bourdon is a prospective candidate for the feel-good story of the year in the NHL.
Bourdon, 24, was cleared for contact by the Philadelphia Flyers physician, Gary Dorshimer, after nearly two years of dealing with concussion and post-concussion like symptoms.
Bourdon played 45 games with the Flyers during the 2011-12 season. At some point during that time, he suffered a concussion, but hid that from the Flyers organization because he feared losing his spot on the blue-line.
“My career was on the upswing and I was getting to the NHL, that was my goal, and I didn’t want to lose my spot,” said Bourdon.
He then played 17 games with the Flyers minor league affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, before suffering a season-ending concussion on Nov. 30, 2012.
Local doctors treated him, but symptoms still prevailed. The Flyers looked for an alternate route, and found it in a team of Michigan-based doctors willing to help.
The team was led by Dr. Jeffery Kutcher, and included two other doctors, two athletic trainers, and a massage therapist. This team was constantly with Bourdon to help him every step of the way during his rehabilitation and recovery.
They determined the problem was related to the rear part of his cranium and neck. After two months of intense rehabilitation, Bourdon was able to return to Philadelphia.
His journey wasn’t complete there, however, as he still needed time to fully recover.
“It’s been at least a month- I’ve been getting hit in practice and I’ve been reacting pretty good,” said Bourdon. “There was still some tiny little stuff, that’s why it took the time it took. It’s been a long time since I’ve been hit.
He participated in beer league games to keep himself skating and in shape while in Michigan. Obviously the level there isn’t the same as that of the professional level, but he just wanted to keep playing.
When Bourdon skated at the Flyers practice earlier this week, where he wore a non-contact gray sweater, it came as surprise to many players, most of who have played with Bourdon in seasons past.
Flyers General Manager, Paul Holmgren, was excited to have Bourdon on the cusp of a return.
“He showed a lot of promise and obviously the concussion set him back,” he said. “He’s continued to battle back. He’s done a lot of things to put him back in a position where he can keep going.”
In August of 2012, Bourdon signed a two-year contract with the Flyers. The first year being a two-way deal, and the sequential year, the current season, a one-way.
At the start of this season Bourdon was placed on waivers by the Flyers, but he was able to clear them. According to special circumstances under the new collective bargaining agreement, the defenseman can be sent to Adirondack without the organization worrying that another team will claim him, despite his one-way contract.
Bourdon was once a top Flyers prospect, so both he and the team are excited to have him return, although it will be some time before he cracks the NHL roster again.
“I’m cleared to play. I came here to see the doctors from the Flyers just as procedure. I’ll go wherever the organization sends me and I’m ready to play hard,” said Bourdon.
Bourdon is grateful to the Flyers organization and all the doctors for helping him get back into shape, and feeling healthy again.
“I’m thankful to God to get me to Michigan because it didn’t just improve my hockey, it improved my life in general,” Bourdon said. “I thank God every day for that. I’m really grateful that I can have a good life and be back to hockey and just try and make my way back up.”
Although he still has some time to go, Bourdon’s improvement should be monitored closely because he has shown the talent to be a quality blue-liner at the NHL level.
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