(pictured: Aaron Ekblad talks to Toronto reporters, Aug. 23).

Having Aaron Ekblad on the ice again was a welcome site for the Florida Panthers and their fans. The 2014 first-overall draft pick skated at Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto just less three weeks after sustaining a concussion while playing in a world junior exhibition game for Team Canada.

“The concussion is perfectly, completely gone. I feel great,” Ekblad said on Saturday, August 23. “It’s been about six days since that has subsided. The work I’ve been doing has just been getting back into the normal paces, getting game ready on the ice.”

As the Barrie Colts star prepares for his first ever NHL training camp, he remains under the watchful eye of team doctors with whom he was in daily contact ever since suffering the injury on August 6. With concussion awareness being ever more prevalent, teams are exercising more caution in protecting their investments.

Colorado Avalanche prospect Joey Hishon understands the situation all too well. After suffering a far more devastating hit in the 2011 Memorial Cup, Hishon was sidelined for over two years with a concussion, eventually returning to the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters before finally making his NHL debut in last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

“My recovery was obviously pretty slow, and tough,” Hishon said. “The doctors out there now are so good with being careful and treating concussion issues. I’ve pretty much seen it all in the concussion world, so I’d be available for anybody that’s having those issues because they’re issues that you definitely don’t want to go through ever again.”

While books such as “Concussed!” by Kerry Goulet and Keith Primeau have been instrumental in bringing concussion issues to the forefront, Hishon concedes that there is still much to be learned about the ailment. But he appreciates that doctors are more cognizant of the exponential impact of each hit.

“One thing they do know is, the second hit – if the first one is not recovered yet – is going to be trouble,” Hishon said.

“It’s great to see people care about it, because it’s not just your hockey career, it’s your life after hockey, too, that you’re worried about. “

Ekblad and Hishon were among 33 prospects in Toronto this past weekend for the NHLPA Rookie Showcase. The event gave the opportunity for hockey card trading company Upper Deck to photograph many of the game’s young stars for memorabilia and promotional purposes.

Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca

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