Center Nolan Patrick, sidelined since the start of the season by a migraine disorder, skated with the Flyers’ backups at practice Tuesday morning at the Wells Fargo Center and then talked about the “annoying process” he was going through as he tries to return to action.
He gave mixed signals on his rehab.
Patrick, 21, said the headaches still come and go, but that he expects to play at some point this season.
He characterized his recovery as being “up and down” and that there were “more things that go into it than just headaches, but I’m not going to get into that.”
“There’s no time frame,” he said of his return, adding he has skated in five of the last six days.
Patrick said his teammates “have been amazing” through his whole ordeal. “They’ve been super supportive. It’s a tough thing to go through. You’re kind of by yourself for a lot of it, and they’ve done a great job of making me feel a part of the team.”
Right winger Travis Konecny is one of Patrick’s closest friends.
Konecny said he and his teammates were “trying their best to just be there for him. Whether it’s just a dinner, or keeping him busy and trying to get him back to where he needs to be. It’s all we can do. We’re just hoping he gets better.”
Added Konecny: “It’s still Patty. He still likes to have fun. He still jokes around a lot. We try to keep it light and keep his mind off things."
Patrick said he had “no idea” whether he would go to the AHL’s Phantoms on a rehab assignment when he felt ready to play and was cleared by a doctor.
Asked if the migraines had gone away or had been reduced, Patrick said: “If they had gone away, I’d be playing.”
Not being able to play and being away from the team, he said, has been the most difficult part of his situation.
“Obviously it’s been tough; it’s not fun watching,” said Patrick, who had 13 goals in each of his first two NHL seasons. “Hopefully, I get back soon.”
He has seen numerous specialists, including an eye doctor, for a problem he had “as a kid, and then it went away, and I never had it again for probably seven or eight years," he said in October.
On Tuesday, Patrick said he has had to make some lifestyle changes in the last several months, but didn’t want to elaborate.
Part of the process, which Patrick called “annoying,” is trying to figure out what triggers the migraines and how hard he can push himself, the center said.
“You get a baseline on how much you can do, and if I feel good doing it for a week, then I elevate a little more,” he said. “Obviously there’s a plan in place, but basically it’s how I feel.”
Patrick smiled when it was mentioned he made some light contact with the boards at Tuesday’s practice.
“Oh, God... you noticed that?” he said with a slight smile. “It was just me trying to have fun out there.”
The strength coaches and training staff have given him a program he follows if he feels good. He does a lot of work in the gym each day to stay in shape.
“Just trying to put together more good days in a row than bad,” said Patrick, who recently abandoned a darkened visor because he said, it makes it “too dark” on the ice.
The disorder has made him reluctantly read more about migraines and how they affect people.
“I know a lot more now than before,” he said. “I’m not interested in it, by any means. It’s pretty boring stuff.”
Patrick has talked to former Flyer Dan Carcillo, who has battled headaches and concussion issues, about how he dealt with his situation.
“Every injury to your brain is different; everyone has different symptoms,” Patrick said.
Patrick said his symptoms are different than what he experienced when he had concussions earlier in his career, but didn’t want to be specific.
“It’s obviously frustrating and it’s not an injury where you’re going to be back in six weeks. There’s no timeline to it," he said. "I’m hoping to get back soon and I believe I’ll play this year, so that’s something I’m trying to stick with.”