The news sounded grim, even frightening, when delivered by Sabres coach Lindy Ruff on Jan. 24.
Veteran forward Jochen Hecht had suffered another concussion -- his second of the season and third in less than a year -- one that left him "really unstable."
Ruff described Hecht as "a mess," said he "couldn't focus" and that the team was worried about him.
"He's in a tough place right now," the coach said.
So the sight of Hecht smiling after a workout today was a welcome one for the team.
"I feel good," Hecht said in his first meeting with reporters since being hurt. "I rode the bike the last couple days. Now I’m at that point where I can start working out again and pump the intensity up slowly."
That's a point Ruff wasn't sure would come this season, or maybe ever.
"I really felt he was in a bad place when we left Jersey, that he may not bounce back from this one. But it seems with some of the treatment he's had that he's on the right track to coming back and skating again and may play."
Hecht had a non-surgical procedure done last week that he said involved the use of needles being placed in his back. It's worth noting that acupuncture has been used to treat post-concussion symptoms, although Hecht did not explicitly describe the procedure as that.
"It was pins and needles they put in the back, and medicine, and it took away some of those sensations I had," he said.
No timetable has been set for Hecht's return to the ice, but he's confident that will come this season.
"That’s why I’m working out and doing all the rehab again," he said, as sweat dripped from his forehead. "I still have to go through the bike rides where they monitor my heart rate and look that I’m symptom-free and I’m just going to go from there.
"It was a very tough day on me mentally, in New Jersey [when] I realized that all that came back again. I feel pretty upbeat now that I can go on the bike again, do some workouts, -- even though they’re light workouts -- do something and still feel good about myself and the rest of the day."
Hecht is in the final year of a contract that pays him $3.5 million this season. While there's no guarantee the 34-year-old German will be back with the Sabres, he's got a long life to live once he decides his playing days have come to an end.
That was certainly on his mind Wednesday as he talked about how happy he was to be free of symptoms.
"Even the long-term effects 20 years from now, it makes it a lot better that I don’t have scrambled eggs and I’ll still be able to spend time with the kids and do all that fun stuff," he said.
The audio from Hecht's interview is below.
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