Marc-Andre Bourdon played in the minors for more than three years before finally making his debut with the Philadelphia Flyers last November, when the 22-year-old defenseman was finally called-up. At the time, reports the Philadelphia Daily News, Bourdon says he "was told to pack enough clothes for only 3 or 4 nights." He wound up hanging around until mid-February, when ... well, he's not really sure of the specifics.
Here's the Daily News to explain why:
Bourdon knew something was not right. The headaches were getting worse. He was occasionally dizzy and disoriented. But being a rookie, clinging to his first NHL job, Bourdon knew he couldn't afford to watch someone else try to win over his spot in Peter Laviolette's lineup.
For him, it wasn't a really hard decision to not inform the Flyers' medical staff about the concussion he knew he had. He was still trying to make his mark.
Sometime after Bourdon's concussion, the Flyers acquired a pair of defensemen in separate trades. They then sent Bourdon back to the minors as a result. He took three weeks off, was recalled again two weeks ago, and is still on the roster heading into tonight's playoff opener against the Penguins.
The NHL does not allow teams to send injured players to the minors, so Bourdon could have forestalled his February demotion by reporting his injury. Not that it mattered to him. He was still trying to make his mark. For every Sidney Crosby willing to spend months making sure he's symptom-free before returning to play, the NHL likely has dozens of Bourdons—guys on the fringe who get the opportunity of a lifetime and don't want to let it slip away, even to the detriment of their own long-term health. But Crosby is an outlier who could afford to be cautious; it's not like Pittsburgh is willing to replace him for the long haul any time soon. Bourdon, on the other hand, is expendable—or at least that's how he views himself. The league would not allow the Flyers to demote him for being hurt, but the potential for lost time nonetheless looked to Bourdon like an eventual one-way ticket back to the oblivion of Adirondack.
The NHL and the NFL can do all they can to legislate against blows to the head, to give us the perception they're trying remove the violence from what are violent games. But they can't keep players from inflicting undue violence upon themselves. Marc-Andre Bourdon, after all, only got his first chance last November thanks to Chris Pronger, who is out indefinitely and may never play again. Because of a concussion.