Playing for the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs during the lockout, Blake Geoffrion was carrying the puck along the boards in Molson Centre during a November game against the Syracuse Crunch when he took a violent hit from J.P. Cote:
The results were disastrous. After surgery that removed a piece of his skull and replaced it with titanium and mesh, Geoffrion was diagnosed with a "depressed skull fracture" and after suffering multiple concussions in the past his hockey playing career was put into question, even though doctor said he would make a complete recovery.
On Wednesday, leading up to the Montreal Canadiens hosting the Boston Bruins, Geoffrion met the media for the first time since the hit and off the bat emphasized he wasn't there to announce his retirement.
"I know in my heart I'll come back from this," said the 24-year old Geoffrion. "I'll do whatever I have to do to come back to play the game. I miss the game dearly. I've watched every single game of the Canadiens."
Geoffrion didn't want to discuss any symptoms he's experienced since the hit, but he's been taking a slow approach to his recovery. "The rehab process is keeping everything at a low momentum and not really do much until the symptoms go away," said Geoffion. "Once that happens then I can start moving to other things."
He'll meet with doctors on Thursday to discuss taking thing up a notch in his rehab. He's also not had a conversation with them about whether or not he'll play again. In the meantime, Geoffrion joking said he's become a "professional couch tiger".
When Geoffrion took the hit from Cote, he didn't think it was as serious as it turned out to be.
"When I got hit I was like, 'Aw, crap, I'm getting some stitches' because I was bleeding pretty bad when I didn't want to have to leave the ice that early in the game. Then when I got into the room they just wanted to make sure it wasn't anything more serious. It ended up being so."
Geoffrion said he didn't realize the severity of the injury until a few days later, but has watched it several times and thought it was a good, clean hit. He's has spoken with Cote, who contacted him to apologize. Geoffrion said he was more upset at himself for not being more aware on the ice. He believed he could skate by Cote on the play.
The recovery will take time and given his previous injuries it's still a mystery if he'll be able to play again. But despite the roadblock in front of him, Geoffrion isn't backing down from the challenge.
"I miss the game of hockey. It's unbelievable. I can't wait to get back out there and play again."
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy