Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers has two words of advice for the Canes' Jeff Skinner: stay patient.
Recovering from a concussion is tough, trying, frustrating, Giroux said today. The Flyers' star center knows that after missing four games this season because of a concussion.
"It's the worst," Giroux said. "You see your team play and you obviously want to help them win, and you kind of want to rush it back. But that's probably the worst thing you can do. You need to relax and let it heal."
Giroux was kneed in the back of the head by teammate Wayne Simmonds in the Dec. 10 game against Tampa Bay. He was able to return Dec. 21 against the Dallas Stars -- a relatively short period of time -- and also returned with a bang, with a goal and three assists in his first game back.
Skinner suffered his concussion Dec. 7 against the Edmonton Oilers and now has missed more than a month and 13 games. Skinner recently said a tough part of the recovery is waking up each morning and playing the mind game of whether he feels "normal."
"You wake up and you ask yourself every morning and about every half-hour, 'How do I feel?'" Giroux said. "You don't know what 'normal is anymore.
"The worst part is everyone asking you how you feel and you don't know the answer. The best advice might be for him to tell all his friends to let him be and quit asking him how he feels."
Giroux said the precautions being taken by the Flyers, Canes and teams around the league in dealing with concussions were necessary. Skinner's concussion is his first; Giroux said he has had "a couple" before the one this season.
"It's a good thing to make sure people are fine before they play, because a head injury is probably the worst injury you can have," Giroux said. "I mean, you're not going to play hockey for the rest of your life, so you want to make sure you're healthy and able to take care of your family."
Giroux's concussion and recovery was documented in HBO's "24/7" series that led up to and promoted the NHL Winter Classic game against the New York Rangers. When he's about to return, he's shown talking to coach Peter Laviolette on the ice in Dallas and Laviolette appearing to be trying to convince a somewhat wary player that he's ready to play.
"The conversation with Claude ... wasn't about him coming back from an injury," Laviolette said today. "The question that was edited out beforehand was (Giroux saying) 'I don't want to come back and hurt the team,' and that's when I said, 'Are you kidding me?
"Claude was cleared to play. He had practiced, he felt good, everything was good. We try to err on the side of caution."
Laviolette recalled the 2006 Stanley Cup final against the Edmonton Oilers, when as the Canes coach he had to decide if he would allow Erik Cole to return for Game 6. Cole had been sidelined with a serious neck injury suffered during the regular season but was given clearance to play in Game 6 in Edmonton.
"I had to actually sign my name to Erik Cole's neck injury for Game 6," Laviolette said. "That was my name on the bottom of the lineup sheet. In the end, I fill it out and I sign it.
"There's always that anxiety, even though they're cleared, players go back in and you don't want to see anybody get hurt. Concussions are starting to pop up more and more and caution is taken more. Players have to come back from those injuries, too, even concussions. And no one wants to force it early."
Laviolette joked that it would be fine with him if the Canes kept Skinner out of tonight's game (the Canes will).
"I really don't think they should force him back tonight," Laviolette said, smiling. "They should err on the side of caution. Get a good contact practice first, tomorrow."