Four weeks after terrifying concussion, Blackhawks’ Connor Murphy is skating again and ‘feeling good’

Murphy — whose availability for the rest of the season hasn’t yet been determined — said he holds no hard feelings against Senators forward Parker Kelly, who delivered the hit.

SHARE Four weeks after terrifying concussion, Blackhawks’ Connor Murphy is skating again and ‘feeling good’

Connor Murphy hasn’t played since his concussion March 12, but he is feeling better lately.

AP Photos

Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy has missed 12 games so far with a concussion suffered March 12 against the Senators, and it’s unclear whether he’ll return during the final 10 games of the season.

But there is encouraging news: Murphy is feeling much better.

‘‘I’m feeling good,’’ Murphy told the Sun-Times recently. ‘‘I’m trending in the right direction and just following what the training staff has been giving me, which has been helpful so far.’’

Murphy has resumed skating on his own in recent weeks and made his first public on-ice appearance since the injury Saturday, taking a few laps at Fifth Third Arena before the Hawks’ practice.

‘‘It has been really fun to be back at the rink,’’ he said. ‘‘I had to take some time away right away, and it has been nice to progress day after day. It helps your mental state a lot, coming in and being able to skate and see the guys and work out and get back on the right path.’’

On his second shift March 12, Murphy skated down the wall to make a play on the puck, but it jumped over his stick. While he was turning to retrieve it, Senators forward Parker Kelly hit him squarely from behind, crushing his head against the glass and briefly knocking him out.

Murphy doesn’t remember much about the incident, which he admits ‘‘is probably a good thing.’’ Kelly was given a major boarding penalty, and Murphy was stretchered off the ice after a few frightening minutes. He holds no hard feelings about it, though.

‘‘I honestly feel more bad for family and friends and people having to watch that,’’ Murphy said. ‘‘Any time a stretcher comes out, it’s a scary thing to see. I sometimes chalk up some of the injuries to part of the game. The game is so fast, things are going to happen that put you in positions you don’t want to be in.’’

He said he received a ‘‘bunch of nice texts’’ from Kelly and other Senators in the following days.

‘‘It seemed like they were a bit shocked and rattled from it,’’ Murphy said. ‘‘When I watched the replay, the puck jumped over my stick, and I turned [at the] last second. So I understand what that’s like, closing on a guy and making the decision to hit him [and] not realizing how vulnerable he could be at the last second.’’

The Hawks rallied that night to ‘‘win this one for ‘Murph,’ ’’ as defenseman Caleb Jones later said, but they entered their game Sunday against the Stars with only two victories since.

Jones and Erik Gustafsson have received more top-four opportunities in Murphy’s stead, but his absence certainly has been felt. The Hawks have struggled mightily with their defensive coverage since he went down.

In fact, in games in which Murphy has played this season, the Hawks have allowed 2.62 expected goals per 60 even-strength minutes. In games in which he hasn’t played, they have allowed 3.22 expected goals per 60 minutes, including 3.44 expected goals during this ongoing stretch.

Murphy also leads Hawks defensemen in expected goals allowed per 60 even-strength minutes during his individual ice time this season at 2.49. Calvin de Haan is second at 2.53, followed by Caleb Jones at 2.67, Gustafsson at 2.81, Jake McCabe at 2.84, Seth Jones at 2.92 and Riley Stillman at 2.93.

The Hawks’ medical and coaching staffs have discussed the possibility of ruling Murphy out for the season, interim coach Derek King said recently, but a final decision hasn’t yet been made.

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