Ben Smith stood at his locker on Monday, a smile on his face.
"I felt pretty good," said Smith. "It's just as it's been all along. I'm just seeing day in and day out how it's going."
Welcome to dealing with a concussion. Smith will take days like Monday, when he's able to skate and at least take part in the non-contact drills. He has yet to be cleared for contact but he's hoping the recovery continues.
"It's nice to get him on the ice," coach Joel Quenneville said. "If he practices a couple more days in a row then maybe we'll get an indication. Things have been better the last few days."
Things were up and down last week for Smith, who suffered his concussion on Sept. 28. He skated with the team early last week, then was off the ice by the end of it. The term "part of the process" was used to describe Smith's status heading into last weekend, which sounded like the forward had a setback.
"It's just part of the way things are with concussions. You never know," Smith said. "The best-case scenario is to be cautious."
Smith is handling the situation well, probably because he realizes he has no choice. There's no such thing as rushing back from these anymore, no just telling the coach, 'Hey, I'm fine,' and you're back in the lineup. Talking to the doctors, telling them how he feels, clearing the tests: that's the protocol, and Smith will take all the time he needs to get there.
Still, like any other player devoted to the game, Smith has a lot of pride. Here's a player who didn't miss one game in his college career. He admits he took pride in that. So sitting right now isn't fun.
"It's tough watching games. But you can't mess with your head," he said. "Arms and legs are different. You want to be 100 percent when you come back and that's what I'm working toward. I'm just trying to get back."
Smith's also talking plenty with Dave Bolland, who missed a month last spring with his own concussion. Bolland, who has talked several times about how hard those recovery weeks were, spoke with Smith when both did not travel to Dallas last week.
"He said, 'Hey, take your time, make sure you're 100 percent,'" Smith recalled. "You've seen how he's come back from these type of things. Obviously he's been doing the right things to be back. That's definitely someone I listen to."
Smith will heed all advice, diagnoses and test results. He has no choice. He just hopes to build off days like Monday.
Corey Crawford was given a day off on Monday. Crawford has a slight groin injury but Quenneville said the goaltender should be back practicing on Tuesday. Niles resident Scotty Czarnik, who played club hockey at Arizona State but is transferring to Illinois State, was the Blackhawks' No. 2 goaltender at Monday's practice.
Daniel Carcillo skated on a line with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa on Monday. Whether he's with that group long or not, Carcillo will make his regular-season Blackhawks debut on Thursday when they host the Winnipeg Jets.
Viktor Stalberg (left knee) skated by himself on Monday and could rejoin the Blackhawks practices Tuesday or Wednesday.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information