Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger has not lifted a heavy weight for six months and only recently was cleared for strenuous bike riding.
He labels a lack of strength as his most important concern with training camp slated to open in mid-September.
Though Pronger will not be available for the start of camp, he still expects to play all 82 regular season games as he recovers from off-season back surgery and further rehab from a prior right hand surgery.
I'm starting to feel a little better and do a little bit more in the gym, Pronger said during a conference call on Monday. I was cleared to start riding the bike a little harder.
The goal is to be ready for Game 1 of the regular season. Im starting to progress ... Once I get cleared, I can start to get into full lifting programs.
Though Pronger is rehabbing from back surgery, the slow healing in his right hand is the real issue not his back. He said he has no pain in his back, either.
Pronger said his right hand is holding him back from resumption of a full workout schedule. The hand surgery came last March.
He estimated that his hand is 80 to 85 percent healed. The screws have been removed and subsequent holes need to be filled in. Pronger wont be permitted to begin heavy weight training for about another week, he estimated.
Because hes not lifting, he said he is about two months behind on strength training. Most of what he does now is strictly cardio with some light arm weights for shoulder strength.
What I havent done is lift weights, he said. Strength for my position and the way I play is critical. I have to gain my strength back before I begin skating.
Asked when he will return to the ice, he replied, I dont know I dont know how my body is going to respond. Or what kind of strength I will have until I get into the gym and start lifting weights, I really couldnt tell you.
He said the herniated disk in his back, which was surgically repaired on May 12, is no longer an issue and he doesnt anticipate it will be an issue this season, either.
Im not going to speed up the process one bit; its going to go as it goes, he said. Normally, this time of year, I already would have had two months of strength training and I would start curtailing that a little bit and do more cardio.
Now I am doing all cardio and no lifting. So, its a little backwards. I need to do a lot of lifting to get my body back to where it needs to be and in the shape it needs to be to play an 82-game schedule or 25 or 30 minutes a game, the way I play.
Pronger turns 37 in October. He has six years left on his contract. Told by a reporter he was starting to break down, he disagreed.
I dont know if you could say I was breaking down with broken bones and being hit by pucks and all the rest of that, Pronger said. Those are things that can sometimes be avoided. Perhaps now I may not block as many shots. I might just get out of the way and let our million dollar goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov stop those things.
Pressed further about his durability, he replied, If Im going off last year, I guess Id call myself a Band-Aid. But Ive got many other years where Id say I wasnt a Band-Aid. Sometimes you just have years where things dont go your way.
It was a quick turnaround from last year and played hurt in the playoffs and had surgery and I was kinda set back in my training and for whatever reason, some bad breaks along the way. And then the back came in.
I dont really know what happened with my back or whether it was a ticking time bomb. No one really knows how they hurt their back. Id like to think Im past all of this. But well see how I react once I start lifting weights and pushing myself a little harder.
Pronger reiterated he was going to take his time rehabbing, to assure hes not troubled with similar problems this coming season. Once he begins skating, he wants to go, 100 percent and not look back.
Pronger also admitted he might be a bit re-energized for this year given the amount of time he missed last season 32 regular season games and eight playoff contests.
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