The two dominant topics of recent months in the NHL have been concussions and the role of the enforcer in the game, which puts Toronto Maple Leafs tough guy Colton Orr among a select group of players in the league who'll be watched closely this season.
Orr, 29, last played in January after suffering a concussion in a fight with George Parros of Anaheim. The Winnipeg native wasn't biting as training camp began Friday when asked if it was the first concussion he's suffered, offering only that he'd never endured any head injury "to that extent."
While offensive stars like Sidney Crosby of Pittsburghand Marc Savard of Boston have talked about headaches and sensitivity to light and sound after suffering their concussions, Orr was tight-lipped about specific symptoms.
"I was a rare case, a lot of my stuff showed up more in MRI's or cognitive testing, stuff like that, where I showed some results that weren't as high as they should be," he said.
Of course, it could be persuasively argued that Orr has less incentive to talk about symptoms than Crosby and Savard. Those two players would be welcomed back, health permitting, even if they scored half as many points as their pre-injury production.
Orr's very specific role, on the other hand, could be threatened by any notion that he's not the same as before the incident. The role of fighting has come under scrutiny not only due to greater concussion awareness, but because of the premature deaths in a matter of week this summer of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and the recently retired Wade Belak.
Each man died under a specific set of circumstances but they all shared a willingness to drop the gloves to protect their teammates.
The trio racked up 31 penalty minutes for every point they scored in the NHL.
Orr, for the record, hits the scoresheet once for every 45 penalty minutes incurred in his career.
Orr said he’s been given the go-ahead to get back on the ice. He's just focused on the here and now and not thinking about any long-term ramifications of his role.
"It's my job, it's the choice I've made and I love being in the NHL and standing up for my teammates," he said. " I went through a lot of testing, I had the best doctors and great support from the team. I'm ready to play, ready to drop the gloves or whatever it takes to do my job."