BOSTON — Continuing with the “keeping the team in tact” motto used by Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli this offseason, the announcement of forward Nathan Horton being cleared for contact is certainly a welcome sign.
After missing the last four months of the 2011-12 season due to a concussion caused on a hit by Tim Sestitio in a mid-Janurary contest against the Philadelphia Flyers, Horton should be ready to go for Training Camp, assuming a lockout is avoided.
“Horton has been cleared to play and our medical staff says he’s ready to go when we start playing,” Chiarelli said during a press conference for Claude Julien’s contract extension on Tuesday.
Without Horton, the Bruins offense struggled mightily as evident by their first round loss to the Washington Capitals in seven games, where they managed to score just 14 goals in the series.
After being acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers in June of 2010, Horton was instrumental in the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals with three game-winning goals, including two Game 7 clinchers against the hated Montreal Canadiens — in overtime of their first round series — and in the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, Horton was sidelined after Game 3 against the Vancouver Canucks for his first concussion, delivered by defenseman Aaron Rome, missing Games 4-7, but returned in time for the start of the 2011-12 season.
Chiarelli also confirmed that defenseman Adam McQuaid, who also missed the postseason due to a concussion, has fully recovered, while Patrice Bergeron (oblique muscle) is at 100-percent and Tyler Seguin is ahead of schedule after knuckle surgery on his left hand.
Health is still an issue, but Horton can still provide 20-plus goals when healthy. But another setback could be looming for Horton if he sustains another concussion down the road.