After missing Friday’s practice in Toronto and games in Ottawa and Chicago on Saturday and Sunday for an upper-body injury suspected of being a concussion, Colin Fraser was the last player to join the Kings on the ice for practice at the Toyota Sports Center on Monday. He was greeted with loud calls of “Fras!” as players yelled out to him and banged their sticks on the ice.
“I think that was more for him being late than anything else,” Matt Greene said. “It’s good to have him back. He’s feeling well. He’s a big part of this team.”
After practice, Fraser wanted to clear his name. He wasn’t late, apparently.
“It was 11:58,” he said, having beaten the cutoff by two minutes.
“It was nice. I mean, it hasn’t been that many days, but it was long enough,” Fraser said after the 30-plus minute practice. “I was feeling pretty good. I mean, obviously I didn’t look good on the ice, but for whatever reason, even that night and the next day I felt no symptoms really, but with the protocol and the safety, which is obviously a good thing – I’m not complaining – it just takes a little longer.”
The “protocol” Fraser followed is the process used as a means of identifying head injuries and gauging a player’s progress in an attempt to make a healthy return. He spoke with reporters on Monday about that process, and what he recalls of Frazer McLaren’s second period hit.
Darryl Sutter, on Colin Fraser returning to practice:
We weren’t practicing. Day off. One practice he wasn’t allowed to skate, and then two game days, so you don’t have practices. So today he was allowed to practice. If we were at home, it might have been a day quicker, but the way the schedule is, it slows it down by a day.
Fraser, on his rehabilitation:
I skated yesterday, just by myself in the morning – lightly, nothing crazy – and then rode the bike the two days prior. Ride the bike lightly, no symptoms. Rode it harder, worked out, no symptoms. Skated and skated today. Good to go today. Took my neuropsych test and passed everything. [Reporter: How long does that take?] The test? Oh, man, I was in there probably an hour. It was two different parts, so it was probably 20 minutes and 20 minutes.
Fraser, on aspects of the neuropsych test:
Like word memory. They give you 15 words or whatever, and then you repeat back as many as you remember. You do it like three times. Shapes, memory, and then you’ve got to draw them. That was like the written stuff, and then there’s a computer test, which is the same concepts, but now it’s on the computer, and you’ve just got to remember the shapes and words and numbers, colors, letters. [Reporter: That was the first time you had ever done that?] [Reporter: Don’t they do it at the start of the season?] Yeah. Not every year. Like, every couple of years you’ve got to update it, and then they compare the results to see how you’re doing. [Reporter: But this was the first one of those that you’ve ever had?] Yeah, I’ve never had a concussion. [Reporter: Find some wood to knock on.] Yeah, knock on wood. I’m not a doctor, but…some guys I think are unlucky, and some guys are lucky. Some guys – there’s no rhyme or reason to it – but just heal quicker, and some don’t. It’s their brain, and they don’t even know. The experts don’t even know why.
Fraser, on receiving concerned phone calls and texts:
Yeah, everyone. Yeah, of course…It’s, I guess, scary at the time. It didn’t look too good when I was getting off the ice, even when I watched the replay. I mean, I remember everything. [Reporter: It looked pretty scary.] Yeah, I mean, Darryl said I got the ‘bell rung.’ I definitely got my bell rung. But even going to bed that night, I felt pretty good, which is weird because you look at Greener – missed 18 games. It’s just weird how it goes.
Fraser, on everyone reacting differently to head injuries:
Exactly. I think for me, I hit my head straight on the boards versus like taking it on the chin and getting the whole jarring reaction, and then your neck and everything’s involved. I just straight up hit my head straight on.
Fraser, on whether he had ever weathered a hit from Frazer McLaren:
Not like that. I knew he was coming. I saw him the whole way. The old fashioned ‘take the hit to make the play.’ I know I’m going to get hit. If I’m a foot closer to the boards, I don’t bang my head off the boards, I think I go maybe into the bench. I definitely don’t bang my head, anyway. That’s how close it really is.
Fraser, on whether he thought it was a clean hit:
Man, clean hit. Tough game. He’s 240 pounds. He outweighs me by 50 pounds. He’s probably going to outmuscle me. I play the game hard. I mean, if I don’t go for that puck there, I probably don’t play the rest of the game. So it’s just part of hockey…I’ve been here long enough. It’s weird because I’ve been in a lot of fights, even going back to junior, and I’ve never had one like that, so it’s just the way it went. [Reporter: You’ve been fortunate.] I have been pretty lucky, yeah. I’ve been pretty lucky considering I’m not the biggest guy, and the way I try to play the game, anyway, and try to be physical and try to be hard and sometimes fight…I’ve been pretty lucky.