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Senators' MacArthur opens up about struggles with concussion

Andre Ringuette / National Hockey League / Getty

On Monday, the Ottawa Senators are expected to announce that forward Clarke MacArthur will be shutdown for the remainder of the regular season.

The 30-year-old has been sidelined since the second week of the season with a devastating concussion, and while MacArthur has been adamant about a possible return, the team's position in the standings weighed against the risk and reward have made the decision a rather simple one.

MacArthur recently opened up to Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen about the grueling season he has had to endure, which all began after a hit during a preseason game that MacArthur admits he tried to hide.

"It stunned me, it was like the (concussion) before and I was thinking 'oh, no,'" MacArthur said. "I went to the bench, trying to hide it almost, but the trainers saw it."

But MacArthur went on playing, hoping that a five-day break before the start of the year would give him enough time to recover. It didn't, and it showed.

"I would get a couple of passes and think a guy was on me and I would try to move it, but I had, like, 10 feet of room," MacArthur said. "I was stumbling around and I think my balance got tweaked a little bit. How do I bring it up that I'm not good now? I already told them that I was. I had to figure it out before everyone catches on that I can't even play."

It was then during a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 14 that he hit his head on the ice, spelling the end of his season, and beginning a strenuous recovery.

Nearly three months with almost no improvement, the concussion began taking an emotional tole on MacArhur.

"I felt like I was failing, this (doctor) said I would be back by January and I can't even work out," MacArthur said. "I’ve got a five-month-old at home. It was tougher on Jess than me. It was pretty scary. Whatever I did with that hit in Columbus, all the vestibular (which controls balance) went to hell in a handbag. Focusing on anything was just painful."

In fact, things got so bad for the 10-year veteran that he contemplated retirement.

"At one point in late November, early December, I was thinking I was done, maybe this is it," MacArthur said. "I had to get out of there. Every day you're coming to the rink and you want to go on the ice. It's like going to Disneyland. Everyone else goes on the rides and you're outside the doors, watching."

Eventually after a failed attempt, MacArthur passed the baseline test - used to test post-concussion symptoms. However, with the Senators now eight points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, it appears the best move now is to fight temptation and sit out.

MacArthur can now focus solely on a proper recovery and a return next fall.

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