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For LoVecchio, cause to celebrate

by Lindsay Kramer || NHL.com

The understandable joy that Providence forward Jeff LoVecchio felt in simply taking the ice for the Bruins season opener vs. Springfield on Oct. 4 could only last so long.

He wanted to do something extra to make the event even more memorable than it already was. Scoring two goals in his first game action since the end of 2007-08 should do the trick.

That was the welcome-back party that LoVecchio tossed himself after missing all of last season with a concussion. He could have been forgiven for keeping one of the pucks as a personal pat on the back. He didn’t go souvenir hunting, though, because that would have been redundant.

"It’s not something I need a memento to remember. It was an unbelievable experience that I’ll never forget," said LoVecchio, 24.

LoVecchio’s months-long stretch of uncertainty started with something as innocuous as a routine workout two summers ago following his pro debut, a 14-game run with Providence. While working on an off-season power skating drill, he caught his skate in a rut and slammed head first into the boards.

"They told me it was a bad concussion. I just had to wait it out. They couldn’t even guesstimate the length (of recovery)," he said. "It took me a long time just to be able to ride the bike for five or 10 minutes without having symptoms."

LoVecchio was understandably cautious in his return. Any interaction with the smallest of crowds overloaded his brain.

"The days consisted of me going to (watch) practice, getting in a light stretch, then going home, seeing the doctors," he said. "It was the worst year of my life. Towards the end of it, I thought I might never play hockey again."

The darkness lifted by February, when he began light workouts. He got in two regular practices by the end of the season, and even felt good enough to take pregame skates with Providence.

"I had to re-teach myself how to skate," he said. "It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I felt pretty good coming back onto the ice."

LoVecchio played in five pre-season games with Boston and then hit the frozen pond flying in Providence. While fans who saw his two goals might think they were the only icing atop his comeback, they’d be wrong.

The other topper was something a lot simpler, and, therefore, more appreciated.

"When I got on the ice, I was just looking around, happy to be there, excited," he said. "Just putting on my skates in practice, it was that feeling (of happiness) for me every day. I have a new respect that something can happen and can be taken away in a second."

Lindsay Kramer, the AHL correspondent for NHL.com, profiles an up-and-coming player each Monday during the season, and his AHL notebook appears each Thursday on NHL.com. Read today’s complete column here.