Tangradi returns from concussion to resume practicing
Penguins forward Eric Tangradi is tended to by head trainer Chris Stewart after taking a hit to the head from Islanders forward Trevor Gillies Feb. 11, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Tangradi has not played since.
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At one point, Penguins winger Eric Tangradi was relieved just to be able to watch a movie to its end without his concussion symptoms -- including headaches and light sensitivity -- flaring.
Nearly six weeks of little victories, unwanted reminders of his condition and, finally, a chance to return to practice left the budding power forward philosophical.
"It's such an interesting process," Tangradi said Wednesday after making it through his first team practice with no trouble.
"You don't feel like yourself, but your body feels healthy. ... The hardest part is just telling yourself you need to relax. There was a point two weeks in where I felt like I was fine. Then I hopped on the bike for 10 minutes, and that's when the symptoms kick in. I'm a high-energy guy, so it's been a lonely month and a half."
It was Feb. 11, a day after his 23rd birthday, when Tangradi took a vicious elbow to the head from the Islanders' Trevor Gillies in the penalty-filled, 9-3 loss in New York that earned Gillies and others suspensions. Gillies also continued to hit Tangradi, then stood over and taunted him. Tangradi, one of four Penguins to sustain concussions this season, has watched replays.
"Hockey's a very emotional game," Tangradi said. "I think emotions got the best of both teams. Sometimes things happen like that. I never want it to happen again, but I've learned from the experience. ... I'm thankful to be healthy and strong right now."
He was equally brief and tactful about watching Sunday when teammate Matt Cooke threw a similar but less devastating elbow to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, earning Cooke an extended suspension.
"Things happen," Tangradi said. "It's an emotional game. Whether it's your own team or another team, it's a tough thing to watch."
Tangradi isn't eligible to play for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL stretch run or playoffs. It's not known when or if he will crack the Penguins' lineup -- the second-year pro was hurt while on a call-up due to a long list of injuries -- but he's just about ready if needed.
First Published March 24, 2011 12:00 am