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For the last six weeks, something as simple as driving a car has caused neck pain for Brett Smith. The Komets center is still recovering from the hit he suffered in the first game of the playoffs against Rapid City.
The good thing is that the recovery is finally making positive progress.
``It's been an uncomfortable month-and-a-half dealing with everything, but it's coming,'' Smith said. ``I can feel it gradually getting better every day.''
While suffering from a bulging disc, Smith also had a case of whiplash after being hit from behind by Rapid City's Jeff Kyrzakos. Surgery was considered as an option.
Smith said he was informed late last week that a new physical therapy approach could have him working out in six to eight weeks. Doctors told Smith the pain should definitely go away, and he's in no more danger than anyone else of having the same injury happen again.
``It's been a slow process because we didn't know exactly what was going on,'' Smith said. ``I'd be very disappointed if I wasn't able to play hockey again, but it looks like we'll be all set and ready to go again in October.''
After scoring 61 points in 55 regular-season games, Smith came back with 17 points in 13 playoff games, missing only one game because of the neck problems. Doctors told him they really pushed the envelope by allowing him to play, which definitely delayed his recovery.
``The way I play, I don't shy away from the contact in the corners, and I definitely took a beating over the six weeks of the playoffs,'' Smith said.
Most of his therapy involves specialized stretching that requires assistance to move the head and neck muscles.
``After the first one, I was pretty sore for the rest of the day because I was so weak,'' Smith said. ``I'm sick of painkillers and stuff because of the way they make me feel. Now we're in the stages where we're working things out over the next two months. I'm looking forward to getting healthy again and hitting the gym.''
While saying the Komets have taken great care of him, Smith said he wants to re-sign in Fort Wayne.
``That's been the plan all along,'' he said. ``I loved it here and everything about being here. I've had quite a few calls from CHL teams, and nothing is done until you are signed on the dotted line, but I have a good feeling something should be able to be worked out to keep me here.''