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Armstrong turns to Crosby, others for concussion advice

Colby Armstrong, a third-line NHL forward with the Toronto Maple Leafs.


Leave it to Toronto Maple Leafs winger Colby Armstrong to bring a little levity to a concussion conversation.

Armstrong took part in a full practice on Wednesday in one of the first signs he's almost ready to return from a head injury that has kept him out since mid-December.

After he got off the ice, Armstrong cracked a few jokes about the various tests he's had to complete the past few weeks on the road to recovery.

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"The first tests I passed in a while," Armstrong said, chuckling. "It's like shapes and crazy stuff. I did good ... It was weird, I drew a picture of a naked lady, with my fingers."

Always the comedian. But that's not to say going through this recovery process has been a lot of fun.

Going back to when he was first injured, Armstrong neglected to tell the training staff he wasn't feeling well and began to experience postconcussion symptoms after a morning skate.

There has also been at least one setback since then, when he tried to return too quickly, something that led Armstrong to seek out advice from Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby and other NHL players who are dealing with concussions or have beaten them in the past.

Crosby, a former teammate and friend, has missed all but eight games this season dealing with a head injury he first suffered a year ago in the Winter Classic.

"Pretty much he just said take it slow and listen to your body," Armstrong said of Crosby's words of wisdom. "Much the same as he's said the whole time. Just a little bit of text messaging [between us]

"I also talked to guys like [Joffrey]Lupul on our team, who had a pretty bad one a few years ago and obviously a few other guys. When it's something that's new to you, you're not really too sure of what to expect or what can come with setbacks and things like that. It's kind of a totally different feeling. It's nice to talk to guys that have experienced it."

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Armstrong's concussion is just the latest in a long run of injuries for the Leafs checker, as he missed 32 games last season and 36 so far this year with various odd ailments. He hopes to get into at least one game before the all-star break at the end of the month.

Armstrong added that he's been trying a little of everything in order to change his luck.

"I've been thinking about that a lot," he said. "I don't know what I'm going to do. I've been thinking about tons of different things. I have so many different ideas. It's crazy. I think of different ideas every day.

"I've got a bracelet on right now – I don't want to talk about it – it's a crazy bracelet though, and it's supposed to help me. It's supposed to balance me out, I'm thinking.

"I've taken up different hobbies, all the time. I'm going to learn how to speak Italian. I bought a Rosetta Stone thing the other day. I just figured it's a nice sounding language and it might change something up. I've been watching The Godfather movies a lot too.

"I don't know. I'm searching. If you have any ideas, I'm open."

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- Leafs coach Ron Wilson dramatically reconfigured his lines at practice on Wednesday, shifting Matt Lombardi onto a line with Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel. Joffrey Lupul, meanwhile, was skating with Tim Connolly and Nazem Kadri.

- The defence pairings also got a major overhaul, with Dion Phaneuf sliding over to the left side on a top pairing with Luke Schenn. Carl Gunnarsson was with Mike Komisarek and Jake Gardiner was with Cody Franson, making Keith Aulie the odd man out. I'll have more on some of these changes and what they mean a little later.

- Wilson wouldn't reveal who would play in goal Thursday against the Wild.

- Darryl Boyce is out with back spasms and unlikely to play against Minnesota. "He's better today but not ready to go back on the ice," Wilson said. It's a problem Boyce has apparently been dealing with off and on all season.

- Speaking of the Wild, they're in a world of hurt right now, with just two wins in their last 16 games as they've slid from first in the NHL to almost out of playoff position. Expect a desperate team at the Air Canada Centre when the puck drops.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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