Patrice Bergeron isn’t the only player in Bruins camp that knows what Marc Savard is going through with post-concussion syndrome.
Twenty-five-year-old winger Jeff LoVecchio is entering his second full pro season since a well-documented freak accident caused a concussion that cost him the entire 2008-09 season.
“I went through it and I had a terrible time too. That’s not something you wish upon anyone, even your worst enemy,” LoVecchio told TheBruinsBlog.net earlier this week. “I’ve been there firsthand. It’s definitely scary, but you’ve just got to stay optimistic and everything’s going to work out and the doctors are going to take care of you and they know best. So you just do what they say, and hopefully it all works out in the end.”
LoVecchio is still at the beginning of his pro career, but so far everything has worked out as far as his post-concussion health. Last season he followed a strong Boston camp (he was one of the last cuts) with an impressive season with the Providence (AHL) farm club. His 15 goals ranked him third with the P-Bruins, who benefited from LoVecchio’s energy and strength as much as his touch around the net.
This season, he has kept the momentum going with a solid start to NHL camp. He’s scheduled to make his 2010 exhibition debut tonight at Rochester, N.Y., against the Florida Panthers.
“He’s moving really well out there. He tested very well. Just perusing it real quick, it looked like he was one of the stronger guys in camp,” said Providence head coach Rob Murray about the 6-foot-2 LoVecchio. “So he’s put himself in a position to have success just by doing that, making sure you’re in the best condition you can be.”
“He’s a type of guy, he gives you everything he’s got every practice,” Murray continued. “He’s a guy that can stand out to you watching practice.”
LoVecchio’s first full season was filled with the usual ups and downs that come with a young player finding his way. There was a stretch around midseason when LoVecchio even started to doubt himself.
“I kind of lost confidence in myself there for a while,” he said. “It was just a stretch of 15 games where I was kind of off and on, instead of on like I should’ve been. It was my first pro season and I figured a lot out. With that adversity and that experience now, I take that forward. I’ve learned a lot from it.”
Part of LoVecchio’s struggles might’ve been caused by a miscommunication with Murray.
“What happened was, at the beginning of the year, he had like six goals in eight games or something like that. And then he fell off a bit,” recalled Murray, “but I think maybe there was a little miscommunication between him and I that all of a sudden he thought I was expecting him to score. So we had a talk.”
For LoVecchio to be successful, he has to just get to the net and score on tips, rebounds and other broken plays. In a way, skating on a line during practices earlier this week with Mark Recchi was the perfect situation because that’s a player LoVecchio has to emulate. He figured that out in time to finish up the season on a positive note and then was rewarded by a postseason recall by Boston.
“Obviously, I wish I could’ve got called up [earlier]. I was a ‘Black Ace’ for the playoffs; that was a huge honor,” said LoVecchio. “They only had a couple of us doing that. I was glad I got that opportunity, just in case anybody got hurt. That’s an honor in itself. I saw that as a step in the right direction for myself and my career.”
With a major of influx of young talent in the Boston organization, LoVecchio can get overlooked. However, the former undrafted college free agent could wind up contributing before many of the high draft picks because of how he thrives in his unique role. Even if he doesn’t make the team out of camp, LoVecchio figures to be in the mix among players that’ll be asked to fill the void when the injury bug inevitably bites this winter.