Flyers' Bourdon returns, 'feel-good story' in progress

Marc-Andre Bourdon. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon skated with his Flyers teammates at Sunday’s practice in Voorhees, taking another step on the winding road to recovery from a concussion.

“He’s battled this a long time and it’s kind of a feel-good story,” general manager Paul Holmgren said.

Bourdon scored four goals in 45 games with the Flyers in 2011-12, and impressed them with his physical play.

“He showed a lot of promise and obviously the concussion set him back,” Holmgren said. “He’s continued to battle back. He’s done a lot of things to put him back in a position where he can keep going.”

The 6-foot, 225-pound defenseman hasn’t played since Nov. 30, 2012, when he was with the AHL Adirondack Phantoms. With the Phantoms, he suffered his second concussion in the calendar year.

A third-round draft pick in 2008, Bourdon spent the last two months at the University of Michigan, where he received treatment from concussion specialists and also skated on the college rink.

“There was a lot of stuff going on in my neck and my spine in general, which was causing the headaches and dizziness,” Bourdon said. “It’s been a long time since my brain was OK.”

Bourdon said the headaches, dizziness and vision problems have disappeared because of the treatment he underwent in Michigan, and that he is ready to play. He has a one-way contract, but the Flyers anticipate sending him to the Phantoms this week for a conditioning stint. As outlined in the collective bargaining agreement, he can go on a 14-day conditioning stint.

“I’m thankful to every doctor and everyone in the Flyers organization that did everything in their power to get me back,” Bourdon said, adding that his stay in Michigan “didn’t just improve my hockey, but my life in general.

“I’m just trying to work my way back up.”

Bourdon, who has been playing in a Michigan men’s league for the last month, suffered his initial concussion with the Flyers during the 2011-12 season, but he said he hid his headaches from the team because he wanted to stay in the lineup.

“That’s why it took me so long to stop playing,” he admitted. “My career was on the upswing and getting to the NHL was my goal and I didn’t want to lose my spot.”

Bourdon said it’s “so hard for a competitor to give up on their dreams, and everything I gained from before.”

The post-concussion symptoms, he said, are in the past.

“I’m thankful for where I am right now….and I’m ready to roll,” he said. “I’m ready to show the organization I can play just like I used to play. I’m in great physical condition. I’ve been working on skating for like eight months. I still had symptoms, but I was still working out pretty hard and skating.”

Bourdon said a Michigan doctor cleared him a few days ago. He will be examined by Flyers physician Gary Dorshimer on Monday.

“I’ll do wherever the organization sends me,” said Bourdon, excitedly. “I’m glad I can play hockey and have a good life.”

Said Holmgren: “There are a lot of people rooting for him…The next step is practice and see if he can work his way into the lineup.”

Breakaways. The Flyers will conclude their home-and-home series with the Islanders with a Monday matinee in Uniondale. The Isles are supposed to be there next year, but if they get out of the lease early, this could be the Flyers' last time there....The Flyers are 33-4-2 overall against the Isles since 2007-08,

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