“The summer was the worst. It was miserable. There were times I was really struggling,” said Blackwell. “It’s been a complete 180 since then.”
At first, Blackwell wanted to be back on the ice this season. He was practicing with the Crimson in the fall, though with a non-contact jersey.
After some drills, he’d feel dizzy; part of the frustration of head injuries is not knowing exactly why.
“I hadn’t done much physical activity in nine months. So you feel light, and you don’t know if it’s related or if it’s just because you’re out of shape,” Blackwell said.
Like any athlete, Blackwell gets frustrated watching his teammates at Harvard (6-12-3 this winter), knowing he could be out there helping them. An injury he hoped would heal in a few weeks or months is going on 12 months now and will probably rob him of what could’ve been a breakout junior season.
Blackwell had three goals and 14 points for Harvard in just 21 games as a sophomore after notching 19 points in a full season as a freshman. That came after he was Most Valuable Player at the Super 8 tournament for St. John’s Prep as a high school senior and was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the seventh round that year.
“A Beanpot game, or any game, I want to be out there. My teammates are my best friends, like my family and I want to be there for them. Playing in games like this is all you think about growing up,” said Blackwell, who is living in North Andover during his semester off, though between Crimson games and seeing doctors he spends plenty of time in Cambridge.
“As much as it was the doctor’s decision to take the year off, it was my decision, too. It’s hard, but I know this is for the best not just for hockey, but for the rest of my life.”