PITTSBURGH - Marc-Andre Bourdon isn't exactly sure when or how it happened.
Being the tough and physical defenseman that he is, Bourdon tried to shake off the cobwebs ringing inside his head after a hit in the middle of February during his original run with the Flyers.
Bourdon knew something was not right. The headaches were getting worse. He was occasionally dizzy and disoriented. But being a rookie, clinging to his first NHL job, Bourdon knew he couldn't afford to watch someone else try to win over his spot in Peter Laviolette's lineup.
You see, Bourdon was recalled on Nov. 21 when Chris Pronger and Braydon Coburn were injured. He was told to pack enough clothes for only 3 or 4 nights.
Bourdon, 22, ended up hanging with the Flyers for 39 straight games.
For him, it wasn't a really hard decision to not inform the Flyers' medical staff about the concussion he knew he had. He was still trying to make his mark.
And then, the Flyers traded for Nick Grossmann and Pavel Kubina on Feb. 16 and Feb. 18, respectively, forcing them to send Bourdon - who does not have waiver requirements - back to the minors because of roster constraints.
"I guess if I had known they were going to make those trades, I would have said something beforehand," Bourdon said. "But when they did, I didn't make a big deal out of it."
NHL teams are not allowed to send injured players to the AHL. Bourdon would have made $4,370 for every day he was injured on the NHL roster, compared with just $351 at the AHL level.
"But I didn't want to be one of those guys that they thought I was just trying to milk a paycheck," Bourdon explained. "So, when I got there, I just asked for some time off. I didn't know what else to do."
Bourdon ended up sitting out for 3 weeks with the Phantoms, even missing an opportunity to be recalled at one point. Not surprisingly, with a Flyers defense corps that been held together by little more than duct tape since November, Bourdon got another call on March 28 when Kimmo Timonen decided to rest his back injury.
Since his recall, Bourdon has played five more games. He posted his first two-point game on Thursday night, collecting a goal and assist to factor in the Flyers' only goals in a 2-1 win over Buffalo and preventing the Sabres from making the playoffs.
With the uncertainty surrounding Grossmann's injury and Andrej Meszaros' distant return date, Bourdon figures to be a big part of the Flyers' playoff plans on the third pair. He's currently playing with Andreas Lilja, but he could beat out Lilja - a wise veteran - for one of the final spots in the lineup, since Lilja has been a healthy scratch 20 times this season.
"He's been terrific," Laviolette said of Bourdon. "He's where he left off when we moved him back [to Adirondack]. He moves the puck well. He skates well. He's physical. He's done a really nice job."
Bourdon said he respects the Flyers' decision to make those trades. But he also knows he can do the job. Now, with a revolving door because of injuries, Bourdon wants to stay in the NHL.
"I understand why they made those moves," Bourdon said. "But I have always known I can play in the NHL. It has just been about making the most of my opportunity."
Laviolette recognizes Bourdon's contribution and guts. That's why he won't be afraid to use Bourdon in big spots in the playoffs, against one of the NHL's elite teams.
"It's always good to have confidence in all of your players," Laviolette said. "The minutes he's taken are not by chance. He's earned them. He's done a good job. Getting him back and getting him more games, I think that's a positive as we move toward the playoffs."