By David Strehle
NHL Hot Stove Managing Editor
In a Monday chock full of NHL news, the Philadelphia Flyers evidently didn’t want to feel left out.
After coaches in Washington and Carolina were fired and their replacements named, Philly GM Paul Holmgren had some news of his own to deliver. No, it was nothing to do with their coach. Peter Laviolette has one of the safest jobs in the entire League.
(Photo credit: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images North America)
Keeping with the injury theme that has been the biggest non-Winter Classic related fodder in Philadelphia for some time, Holmgren announced today that captain and top defenseman Chris Pronger would be undergoing surgery tomorrow on his left knee.
Already a scratch for the last four games due to a ‘virus’, Pronger will likely miss at least another month following the surgery on his knee.
Holmgren said this is not a new injury, it’s just something that’s been lingering for some time. Knowing he had surgery on the right knee last season and seeing Pronger’s knees wrapped in huge ice bags in the locker room following each home game, it’s not hard to imagine the validity of the statement.
Pronger missed the beginning of last season with the right knee surgery and had three subsequent injuries that required surgeries – the last of which was back surgery during the playoffs that caused him to miss almost all of training camp this year.
The 37-year-old defenseman had a close call with a major disaster on October 24, when he took a stick to his right eye in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Lucky for Pronger, Mikhail Grabovski’s blade just clipped the outer edge of his eye, and did no damage to the eye itself. He returned, donning a visor, on November 9 after missing just six games.
For the season, Pronger has played in 13 games, scoring a goal and assisting on 11 others, while recording a +1 rating and 10 PIMs. But it appears the 1,167 regular season contests and 173 more in the postseason – not to mention international competition – has taken a hard toll on Pronger’s body.
As a result of the Pronger development and other injuries the team is dealing with at the moment, there was a deluge of roster moves made today, as well as more to come this week.
Below is the transcipt of the conference call held by Holmgren today, explaining not only the situation with Pronger, but also the domino affect it is having on the club’s ailing roster:
Q: How long have you known he’s had a knee problem?
“Obviously Chris has played a long time. This has been an issue probably for the last month or so for him that’s been nagging. He’s been playing through it up until this recent bout with his virus. As I said in my statement earlier, we kind of believed that through continuing the rehabilitation that he’s been doing on that, that he does on a daily basis anyway, and some medicine, that it would start to feel better. But Chris saw the doctor yesterday and had another MRI, and we just decided that this was the time to go ahead and get this taken care of. Some of the loose bodies in there are becoming a little bit of an issue, and we felt it was better to get it taken care of now.”
Q: Did he miss games because of the knee or because of the virus?
“The reason he missed games was because of the virus. This came up just recently, yesterday, and we decided the best way to attack this is with surgery now. But he’d been missing games because of the virus. It had nothing to do with his knee.”
Q: Has he recovered from that virus now?
“Well, he’s certainly feeling more like himself. If this hadn’t come up with the knee, we were hopeful that he’d be able to play on Friday. Obviously now that’s out of the question.”
Q: What are you going to have to do now roster-wise?
“We’re talking about a lot of things here today. I think initially… we sent [Kevin Marshall] back after the Ranger game on Saturday night, so he actually wasn’t here the last couple days. I think initially we’ll probably just recall Kevin and try to figure out where we’re at at that point. But right now that’s kind of the way we’re leaning.”
Q: Was Andreas Nodl put on waivers too?
Q: Can you talk about that decision?
“Well, Andreas hasn’t played as much. We’ll just gauge interest and see what happens. At some point tomorrow, if he clears waivers, we’ll see what we’re going to do with him – if we send him down or just keep him. But we’ll decide his fate tomorrow after we find out whether he clears or not.”
Q: Will Chris be moved to the long-term injured reserve?
“I would probably say yes, at some point, today or tomorrow.”
Q: On Pronger’s multiple surgeries
“Any time a player has surgery, there’s concern, whether he’s an older player like Chris or a younger player. I do think Chris is a player that takes good care of himself, looks after himself, does the proper rehabilitation and conditioning to stay in top shape. I think this time, the only thing we can go by is what the doctors tell us, and it’s just a question of cleaning up some of those bodies. The structure of his knee is fine, he’s got good cartilage on both sides of that knee, so this is just kind of a maintenance thing more than anything, and to get him a little more comfortable. He’d been playing with some discomfort in that knee, apparently, and Dr. DeLuca believes if we just get this done now and take care of it, we can get him back playing in four weeks time and he’ll be good to go. We’re worried because he’s going under surgery, yes, but long-term I still think Chris has a lot of miles left on his body, and based on his attitude about this and the way he takes care of himself and prepares, I think he’ll be fine.”
Q: Will Andreas Lilja be going on long-term injured reserve as well?
“He’s going to go on today or tomorrow as well.”
Q: Is Brayden Schenn a consideration to be called up?
“Yes, he will be (called up). He was in town today to get a follow-up on his foot with Dr. Raikin and everything looks good there, he made it through the three games [with the Phantoms], so we will recall Brayden.”
Q: Updates on Jaromir Jagr & James van Riemsdyk
“Jaromir skated today, we’ve just got to take it a day at a time with him. James did not skate today. I would think there’s a chance Jaromir could play on the upcoming weekend. James is probably a long-shot right now, but I’ll know more tomorrow, we’ll see how he is tomorrow. He wasn’t doing too good today.”
If you have any comments or questions, you can email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter – @David_Strehle
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