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Roman Josi cleared for contact; likely to go on road trip

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Being diagnosed with a concussion brings up many more questions than answers.

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi was concussed by a hit from Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Downie in the season’s second game. Immediately, questions of how severe the concussion was and how long it would keep him out of the lineup emerged. But unlike most injuries, concussions have no set timetable.

Recently, Josi has been working out and resumed skating as well. He reports no ill-effects from elevating his heart rate, a key indicator in getting a player approved to return to action by the team’s medical staff.

“Everything is good,” Josi said. “You start with a pretty low heart rate and then you just progress every day. I skated pretty hard the last couple of days, so I’m feeling good.”

Monday afternoon, Josi joined his Predators teammates as they practiced at Centennial Sportsplex. He was in a traditional blue defenseman’s practice jersey, meaning he was cleared for contact.

“He got to get into some contact here, so that’s part of the next step, and we’ll see how he is going, but he’s tracking pretty (well),” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed and the trainers are doing a really good job in terms of protocol, and our fitness coach is doing a good job of preparing him. It is probably in Roman’s hands now.”

As the Predators prepare to set out on their season-long seven-game road trip which begins Thursday in Phoenix, it appears that the Bern, Switzerland native will join the team on the journey that will take them across four time zones over the course of 17 days.

“I would say that it is likely he’ll go on the trip, yes,” Trotz added. “Where he is right now, unless we take a step back, he’s very likely to go on the trip.”

When Josi returns, it may be in a different place in the rotation from when he left. Seth Jones has filled in more than formidably on Shea Weber’s left side on the team’s top defensive pairing, so it is unlikely the coaching staff would break those two up, at least to start. And while Josi has been working out, there is a difference in being in shape and being in game shape.

Jones has enjoyed the extra ice time he has received in Josi’s absence, but he knows that getting a defender of Josi’s caliber back in the lineup benefits the entire team.

“The sooner the better for us, we definitely need him,” Jones said. “He’s a great guy to have back there. He makes smart plays with the puck. His decision making is unbelievable.”

Well-liked by his teammates, Josi has only been out for just over three weeks, but it feels like a lot longer.

“It’s great just having him around,” Weber said. “It seems like he has been out forever, but it has only been a couple of weeks. We’re excited to have him back around the rink in practice.”

The frustration of being hurt is one thing, but being away from the everyday activities of the team is another downside to Josi's concussion.

“If you play in a team sport, you always miss that, going in the dressing room and just hang out with the guys,” Josi said. “They were on a road trip for four or five days and I was the only guy back, so it is kind of boring for you and you want to be around the team.”

He is now around the team, and returning to game action will complete the long road to really being back.

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