A little over a week ago, the Peterborough Examiner was reporting that Petes forward and Ottawa Senators first round pick Matt Puempel was skating on his own but still had no timetable for his return from a concussion.
Puempel sustained the injury in his game back from serving a lengthy eight-game suspension for a check to the head.
Puempel suffered the second concussion of his OHL career — the first was two years ago as a rookie — after taking a hit to the head Jan. 4 from Kingston’s Alex Gudbranson. The Frontenacs defenceman was suspended 10 games for the hit.
Sadly, if Matt Carkner or Zenon Konopka had been dressed in this January 4th game, this hit never would have happened.1
His junior coach, Mike Pelino, had hoped to have him return to the lineup for the Petes’ final home game against the Oshawa Generals on March 13th but that deadline came and passed without a healthy Puempel. Interestingly, despite Puempel’s exclusion from the Petes’ lineup from today’s final regular season game, Puempel has been medically cleared to play and will report to Binghamton.
It’s fantastic news for Puempel, the Senators organization and the fans.
I don’t want to sound glib by glossing over or underscoring the importance that the player has overcome a significant brain injury and is healthy, but in light of the mass volume of games that Puempel has missed the past two seasons, it’s great from a development standpoint that he’s going to be able to get into some more games this year. For what it’s worth, Binghamton has eleven games remaining in their season.
What was once a blessing in disguise, has now become a burden. Had it not been for his hip injury that required surgery and caused him to miss the last month of the 2010/11 regular season, he likely would have been unavailable when Ottawa made the 24th overall selection in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft.
Puempel’s absence will be sorely felt by the headline writers at the Peterborough Examiner.
1 I’m just playing off of what’s been a recurring theme in the Ottawa Sun‘s sports pages for the past week.