Recovering from a major concussion is a matter of taking small steps. The head clears and then the headaches end. Workouts begin, light at first and then heavier, and finally it's back to skating.
So it has been for the Canes' Brandon Sutter, who suffered a concussion Oct. 25 on a big hit from the New York Islanders' Doug Weight. Sutter, for first time was able to return to the ice Friday at the RBC Center, although his return to the lineup still is uncertain.
"It felt pretty good although my wind's a little off -- my cardio and stuff," Sutter said, smiling. "But it felt pretty good and hopefully we can up the workout the next couple of days and keep going harder and hopefully I'll be back before you know it.
"Nothing is really set. I'll take it day by day and see how I feel. The last few days I've kind felt back to normal."
Sutter said he doesn't recall much about the mid-ice hit from Weight, which knocked the rookie center unconscious.
"I don't even remember much of the game, even," he said. "I remember little pieces but nothing specific, really. I remember a little bit before the game and stuff, but I don't remember the hit or anything after until I kinda woke up in the hospital."
Sutter was keep overnight at a Long Island hospital for evaluation and then released. He spent the night with his father, New Jersey Devils coach Brent Sutter, before returning back to Raleigh by train.
Sutter said he has seen replays of the hit.
"I did, yeah, eventually," he said, laughing. "That was weird watching, just seeing how ... I don't remember being there at all, just lying there.
"That was kind of weird, so I don't think I watch it too much."
Sutter was trying to chase down the puck and had his head down and in a vulnerable position when Weight slammed into him. No penalty was called and Weight did not face a suspension for a hit to the head.
"It's just something that happened," Sutter said. "I was reaching for the puckhe (Weight) just came and hit me. It's just part of the game and I'll kind of learn from it."