MONTREAL -- For weeks after The Hit, Patrice Bergeron's life was dominated by dizziness, headaches and nausea.
On many afternoons the young Boston Bruins' forward would quietly sit in his condo, shackled by the post-concussion syndrome that consumed him from the moment he woke up each and every morning.
On the days when he did go out, his mother, on hand to nurse her son back to health, would pack up Patrice and take him for light therapy.
All the while, Bergeron just wanted to feel normal again.
"I just couldn't wait for (the symptoms) to go away," Bergeron said yesterday, just hours before his Boston Bruins took to the ice against the heavily-favoured Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
On Oct. 27, Bergeron's career was threatened when he was crushed into the boards from behind by the Philadelphia Flyers' Randy Jones. The Hit would take its toll on the talented Bruins forward, who was left in limbo, he estimates, for weeks, even months.
Just days after The Hit, Jones called to see how Bergeron was doing. Bergeron could not answer the call. He could not answer any call. Not in the shape he was in.
Watching Bergeron smile with a youthful exuberance as he skated with a pair of Bruins' assistant coaches yesterday, it was hard to believe he had battled such serious health issues not so long ago.
A miracle, perhaps? Not in Bergeron's estimation.
"I never thought that way," Bergeron said when asked if he ever thought he might never play another NHL game. "Never."
Whether Bergeron suits up in the Bruins-Habs first-round playoff series remains to be seen.
Despite receiving medical clearance to begin full-contact practices this week, he will not push the envelope until he once again feels 100%.
When he does, he'll need to get the green light from doctors to see game action.
"I'm happy the way things are going, but I know what's at stake," he said. "I'm not going to be stupid."
At one point during his workout yesterday, assistant Doug Houda began delivering a series of cross checks to Bergeron's back. A harbinger, perhaps, of what awaits him should he be able to suit up at one point for some playoff hockey.
"That's all (Doug) knows how to do," Bergeron laughed, referring to Houda's playful goonery.
"Seriously, I do need the contact, the physical practice. I need to be hit. What you get in practice isn't the same as a game."
Bergeron claims he has never held a grudge against Jones. Having said that, he has spoken to various NHL players and to NHLPA president Paul Kelly about the dangers of hitting from behind.
"No one wants to miss a season like I did because of it," Bergeron said.
He would know.