Flyers' Pronger hopeful yet uncertain about return

Flyers' Pronger hopeful yet uncertain about return
May 26, 2011, 6:17 pm

Thursday, May 26, 2011
Posted: 2:11 p.m.By Sarah BaickerCSNPhilly.com

Its been 14 days since Chris Pronger underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back, but returning to the ice is still the furthest thing from the Flyers defensemans mind.

Pronger, who played just 50 regular season games and appeared in only three of the Flyers 11 playoff games, doesnt know whether hell be ready to re-join his teammates at the start of next season. In fact, he doesnt even know when hell be able to skate again but he remains optimistic that, when he does, hell return to his previous form.

Everybody is different and everybody recovers differently, Pronger said. And you hope that youre able to recover 100 percent, but thats never a guarantee and you never know. Its still very early to be able to tell that. I wont know that until probably training camp or maybe even further on. Who knows.

What he does know is that he faces a long summer at minimum of rehabilitation. Pronger is currently working on rehabbing his right hand, which he fractured earlier this spring. As time progresses, hell learn more about what will be required to strengthen and repair his back.

And all of it requires a great deal of patience from the Flyers top defenseman.

It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of patience in order to kind of go through the different steps to reach each hurdle, Pronger said. As you progress in the rehab protocol, youve got to hit a hurdle and then you go to the next one. It takes time, you cant just jump back in to things you want to do. While you may want to do those things, youve got to just buy your time and be patient and just work through the various steps that have been put in place, kind of gauge yourself.

Youre going to feel good but you just got to gauge it. A lot of times youve got to tap down a little bit and slow yourself down. You get antsy. It was a tough year, but I want to be able to use this time to make sure Im healthy when I come back.

At 36, and with 17 years in the NHL under his belt, Pronger isnt young. This season, he broke both his foot and his hand, and was told, more or less, that if he hoped to play NHL hockey again, surgery to repair his back was a necessity.

And so far, the surgery seems to have been a success. Pronger said he felt improvement immediately after the procedure, noting that the shooting pain and burning sensation he experienced in his leg was gone. At this point, his return next season depends solely on the timetable for complete healing.

Mentally, I feel like I can play, he said. When I was healthy, my play speaks for itself. Its a matter of staying healthy. This year was very tough, every time I turned around I had another injury. It wasnt like it was a bump and a bruise, it was something broken that needed surgery to fix. That can be a little disappointing and frustrating, when you know you can still play at a high level and your play speaks to that and youre not able to go out and play.

Six years remain on Prongers contract with the Flyers, and he would like to play them at the high level that has made him a six-time all-star.

But patience and keeping frustration at bay will be key until hes able to. Whenever that is.

Im not Kreskin, Pronger said, referring to The Amazing Kreskin, the 70s TV personality who claimed to see the future. I cant look into the future and tell you whats going to happen or not happen. Time is really all that can, time and patience, which I know you guys dont have a lot of.
E-mail Sarah Baicker at sbaicker@comcastsportsnet.com

Related: Pronger: Richards continues to grow up Flyers to face Red Wings in Ontario in September

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