David Perron returns to practice this afternoon with the St. Louis Blues after suffering a concussion almost 11 months ago. When healthy, Perron is one of the best skaters and possibly the most creative player with the puck on the Blues roster. After suffering post-concussion symptoms month after month, we have no idea what kind of player Perron will be.
Perron and his team both started hot last season. The Blues began the year with a 7-1-2 record. In those 10 games, including the one where he was knocked out for the year by Joe Thornton, Perron had five goals and two assists. His injury was the one of the first in a line of dominoes that knocked out Barret Jackman, Carlo Colaiacovo, T.J. Oshie and others with significant injuries. Losing No. 57 was one of the first in a series of events that spun the season out of control. With a tight budget and the best young players in the pipeline in St. Louis and not Peoria, the team's depth could not fill the holes. So in that sense, having Perron back with the team is a big deal. But how big of a deal remains to be seen.
Don't think that we're trying to put a cap on what Perron can accomplish this season and the rest of his career. Anyone who can climb the ladder and become an NHL player, much less a gifted scorer to boot, has already overcome long odds. There are thousands of young men playing hockey around the world. About 900 will play in the NHL this season. It's much safer to say a player won't make it than will. But Perron is facing long odds.
First of all, Perron plays in the dangerous areas of the ice near the front of the net. He's strong on his skates and does a good job of protecting the puck. That means he goes into traffic expecting to make plays not protect his brain. He does a good job of making lightning-fast decisions about cutting to the net. He takes chances. Well, he did take chances.
There's no telling what his temperament for traffic is going to be. No one knows what will flash in his mind when he skates into the corner or has bodies coming at him near the boards. To compound matters, Perron had to have lost muscle tone and his fitness level since last November. In fact, exerting himself only brought back the concussion symptoms in recent months. We'll find out more this afternoon when Perron talks to the media, but we don't know anything about how much he's trained recently - if at all.
So Blues fans, it's exciting to see Perron back with the team. There's finally a light at the end of the tunnel and an answer to the question, "When's Perron getting back?" Unfortunately, until we see him on the ice, we have even more questions about his future and few answers.
What do you expect from Perron this season? Will he be the same kind of player? What's a successful season for him? Let us know down below.