OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Clarke MacArthur reported to the Ottawa Senators' training camp healthy and excited for the season. He never imagined his plans would be derailed in a simple scrimmage.
Speaking to the media for the first time since suffering his fourth concussion, the 31-year-old player talked about the hit that knocked him out of action and vowed to return to the ice this season.
Playing in a Sept. 25 scrimmage, MacArthur had just played a puck in the corner and was about to turn up ice when he was hit by defenseman Patrick Sieloff.
''First thing I remember I was looking straight up at the bright lights, like I was at a KISS concert or something,'' MacArthur said. ''Then I kind of put two and two together what happened. I was upset, obviously. Just going through what I went through last year I was just praying it wasn't going to be the same thing and so far things have been a lot better and moving along a lot quicker.''
MacArthur entered the scrimmage symptom-free after missing all but four games last season as he recovered from a previous devastating concussion.
He has been at the rink regularly and has even resumed light skating of late. He continues to suffer some symptoms, but not to the same degree as last year when he could barely function.
And MacArthur was quick to affirm he's not currently considering retirement.
''No. At this point I was obviously devastated by the hit, along with other people who have been around me and been through it, but I'm standing up here today and hopefully the next time we do this it will be before my first game or another step forward in a positive way,'' MacArthur said.
Married and a father of two young children, MacArthur understands people will question his decision to return to the game, but says only he can know what's in his best interest.
''I take my information from the doctors,'' he said. ''We're taking it a step at a time and if they say I'm OK to play then I want to keep playing.
''I just feel at my age I still have a lot to give and I'm not ready for the next chapter yet so I'm going to continue with this one if I can. I'm the only one who knows how my body feels. I feel if I can keep making steps in the right direction, then some people won't like it, but there will be people that do like it too. I want to continue playing if I can.''
MacArthur's absence leaves a void both on and off the ice. Not only is he a skilled forward, but he is easily one of the most popular members of the team and a significant part of the leadership group.
The Senators want to ensure MacArthur feels part of the team, and he will join the team for its western Canadian trip next week.
''To see him battling the way he is and showing persistence means a lot to us,'' defenseman Mark Borowiecki said. ''He's just such a huge part of this team. To have him around us is special for all of us. You never want to see something like this happen to anyone, but it stings a little more when it's someone like Clarke. It will be great to have him on the road.''
At this point MacArthur has no timetable on his return, but is willing to be patient.
''It's hard to say right now,'' he said. ''Every day I'm trying to just do a little more and see where I'm at every day. I'm slowly getting better. It's going to take a while.''