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Bergeron returns to practice

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NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 17:   Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators on March 17, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 17: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators on March 17, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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Patrice Bergeron was on the ice for the Bruins practice this morning at TD Garden for the first time since suffering a concussion in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Bergeron went through power play drills prior to the start of practice and then rotated in on drills as the fourth skater on the first line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton before moving back to his familiar spot between Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi. Bergeron did take some light contact during the practice, but did not participate in any battle drills. The Bruins center did not stay on the ice for the entire practice, exiting about a half hour into the practice session. Between the power play work and practice, Bergeron was on the ice for an estimated hour and 15 minutes. While this looks like a good sign that Patrice Bergeron is close to returning to game action, it is too early to speculate on his return.

During a media availability at TD Garden on Sunday, Bruins head coach Claude Julien was asked if Patrice Bergeron would return to the lineup sooner than expected after suffering a concussion because it is the playoffs. Naturally, Julien responded that Bergeron would not return until he is 100%.

"If he’s not one hundred percent he will never play. And whether it’s regular season or playoffs, our organization, even before they tightened up the rules on that, there is no way we would ever do that to a player. That is too important to his personal lifestyle and the life he is going to lead after hockey that, that will always come before the game. And it’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it should be. And we believe in that and we are going to continue to enforce it. So the day you see Bergy back in our line-up, he will be one hundred percent. If he’s not you’re not going to see him."

Claude Julien on Patrice Bergeron

In wake of Marc Savard returning to the ice too early after concussion issues, I don't think the Bruins or Patrice Bergeron want to take any chances. Furthermore, it would be a pretty big PR and legal blunder to openly admit to the media that the Bruins intended to ice a player who was not fully recovered from a head injury.

There was a lot of speculation following Saturday night's game that Bergeron would return for Game 2 and that speculation has only increased after #37's return to practice on Monday. However, if the Bruins are treating the injury as seriously as Claude Julien stated and following widely-accepted concussion protocol, Bergeron's return for Game 2 is still questionable.  As of Monday morning, Patrice Bergeron has only skated twice on his own and once with teammates and has not participated in a full-length, full contact practice session. If the Bruins medical staff is following the standard procedure for concussions, Bergeron should be symptom-free for 24 hours after participating in full contact training before he is medically cleared to return to game action.