PHILADELPHIA – Nolan Patrick continues to predict he’s going to play this season but, as has been the case since training camp in mid-September, he still doesn’t know when.
The Flyers’ third-year center, sidelined the entire campaign by a chronic migraine headache condition, took part in an optional morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday and acknowledged he’s feeling better.
However, that doesn’t mean we should expect the 21-year-old player back anytime soon.
“I’m just taking it a day at a time,’’ Patrick said. “Hopefully I’ll get back soon but there’s no real timeline.
“If they (the headaches) had gone away, I’d be playing.’’
Is there cause for optimism?
“Yeah, I expect to play this year,’’ he said.
For what it’s worth, Patrick has skated five of the past six days but doesn’t appear close to begin practicing yet, even wearing a “no-contact’’ jersey.
Patrick said being away from the team is probably the toughest part of the whole rehab process. Being put on long-term injury usually makes it pretty official that a player won’t be interacting with his teammates much.
“It’s been tough,’’ he admitted. “It hasn’t been fun watching.’’
Patrick disclosed he’s been trying a number of treatment programs. As far back as training camp, the main prescription was rest and medicine.
And there have been some lifestyle changes although Patrick was a bit reluctant to talk about them.
“There have been a lot of things I’ve had to change,’’ he said. “It’s an annoying process.’’
Patrick has been receiving a lot of support and encouragement from teammates, family members, friends and fans. He says that’s been important to his recovery.
“My teammates have been amazing through it,’’ he said. “Everyone’s been super supportive. It’s kind of a tough thing to go through – you’re alone for a lot of it. My teammates are doing a great job making me feel still part of the team.’’
Patrick has been in touch with ex-Flyer Dan Carcillo, an outspoken advocate for more research on concussions – what causes them and the proper way to recover.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with (teammate) Chris Stewart,’’ Patrick said. “I can’t thank my teammates enough.’’
Patrick has gone through concussion issues before. Each injury is different but there is some common ground in the recovery process.
“It’s frustrating,’’ he said. “It’s not an injury where you’re going to be back in six weeks. I’m hoping to get back soon. I believe I’ll play this year. That’s something I’m trying to stick with.’’
Suffice to say, he’s read up on the subject quite a bit and has a better working knowledge of what he faces.
“I know a lot more than I did before,’’ he said. “I’m not interested in it by any means, it’s pretty boring stuff.’’
Patrick even tried a tinted visor for about a month but finally scrapped that plan. “It almost made it too dark,’’ he said.
Travis Konecny and Patrick sit beside one another in the change area at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. They constantly kid around and that hasn’t changed through this whole ordeal.
“We’re all hoping for the best for him, he looks great,’’ Konecny said. “The guys that are close to him are trying their best to just be there for him, whether it’s just a dinner or keep him busy.
“He’s still ‘Patty,’ he still jokes around a lot. We try to keep it light.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault said he’s been keeping a closer eye on Patrick, partly because he’s been skating so much in recent weeks.
“I have been looking into it a little bit more,’’ he said. “He is progressing. He’s doing more workouts and he is skating a little bit more on his own. So hopefully that’s a positive sign.’’
Defenseman Robert Hagg drew the short straw and will sit out Tuesday night’s game against Toronto. “It’s not an easy call,’’ Vigneault said. “But for tonight’s game, I feel like the (Philippe) Myers-Ghost (Shayne Gostisbehere) pairing gives us a chance to play a good game.’’
Fewer penalties mean more rested penalty killers. The Flyers are now the sixth-least penalized team in the NHL and Vigneault sees some benefits to this. “Being disciplined in the system, being disciplined in staying out of the box, is in my mind, a real important facet to having success,’’ Vigneault said. “You want to be hard to play against and you’re going to take some penalties, they just have to be the right type of penalties.’’