Summer is short but sweet

Horton, Bruins still having a ball

Bruins fan David Sachetti may have been seeing double as he got a Nathan Horton autograph at a charity softball game. Bruins fan David Sachetti may have been seeing double as he got a Nathan Horton autograph at a charity softball game. (Mark Wilson/Globe Staff)
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / August 25, 2011

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LOWELL - As a Florida Panther, Nathan Horton always had the maximum amount of summer workout time available upon the conclusion of the NHL regular season.

He has quickly discovered that no such offseason fortune is available to a Stanley Cup champion.

“I’m definitely not used to not having a lot of time to work out,’’ said Horton yesterday at Milan Lucic’s Rock & Jock Celebrity Softball Game at LeLacheur Park. “Usually you do have a lot of time. That was a little different. Especially with the concussion, I wanted to ease into it and go kind of slow.’’

Horton, who never qualified for the postseason in Florida, didn’t get an opportunity to participate in the final four games of the Stanley Cup Final. In Game 3 at TD Garden, Vancouver’s Aaron Rome ended Horton’s run in the first period when he launched himself at the Bruins right winger - who had given the puck to Lucic - and cleaned his clock, knocking him out with a severe concussion.

Horton had the last laugh. While Rome was suspended for the rest of the series, Horton was at Rogers Arena for Game 7. Before the Cup clincher, Horton poured melted Garden ice onto the enemy sheet. Late in the third period, Horton strapped on his gear, then celebrated on the ice in full uniform with his teammates after the win.

The jubilation, however, didn’t mean that all was forgiven.

When asked whether Rome had contacted him after the wallop, Horton was quick to dismiss the defenseman’s method of communication: text.

“If it was me, I wouldn’t have thrown a text message someone’s way,’’ Horton said. “I’d have a little bit more respect to actually make a phone call.’’

Although the long playoff run and the concussion delayed Horton’s usual offseason routine, he said he’s working out, symptom-free, and ready to start camp Sept. 16. Horton has yet to skate but said he’ll get on the ice before camp opens, preparing himself to help defend the championship.

It’s a different position than the one he found himself in last summer after he was traded to Boston. Horton, playing for a new club, was anxious about fitting in with his new teammates and making the best impression on his employer.

“That’s what we wanted. That’s why we’re here,’’ Horton said of defending. “It’s definitely going to be tough. We’re on top right now. It’s tough to stay there. I think everyone knows that. Everyone’s prepared to play well again like we did.’’

Horton had some company at yesterday’s game. Lucic, Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, Dennis Seidenberg, Shawn Thornton, and Daniel Paille also participated.

Among the group, Rask had the most trying offseason. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, which required a four- to five-week recovery. Rask suffered the injury in January and played through the discomfort. But he and the club determined that summer surgery was the best option despite the month of downtime.

Rask has resumed workouts and hopes to start skating next week. He said he’ll be ready for the start of camp, where he’ll battle Tim Thomas for the No. 1 job.

“Anything can happen, right? You’ve just got to go day by day,’’ said Rask, who was the 2009-10 starter. “No matter what, be a great teammate. If you’re playing or not playing, you’ve still got to support the guys and be part of the group. That was the real big thing I learned the past two years.’’

Rask and Lucic were the only Bruins to require offseason repairs. Lucic underwent surgery on his nose. He had struggled to breathe through it - his right nostril was most problematic - and was suffering repeated sinus infections. Now he’s breathing freely.

Lucic did not have surgery on his right big toe, which was fractured during the Eastern Conference final when Tyler Seguin hammered him with an errant slap shot. Lucic played through the injury.

“There’s a little bit of pain in there - I’m not going to lie,’’ Lucic said. “But there’s nothing you can do. If I was going to get it fixed and have surgery, I’d be out three months. I don’t think that’s really worth it right now.’’

Not much time remains in what might qualify as the Bruins’ greatest summer. Physicals take place Sept. 16. The first full on-ice session is the following day.

“It did go by quick,’’ Paille said. “But it also felt relaxed. I enjoyed it at the same time. Obviously, September’s coming around. You want to start to get training camp over with and get that first week out of the way.’’

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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