Monday, May 9, 2011
Posted: 2:34 p.m.
By Tim Panaccio
Chris Pronger called it the toughest season of his 17-year career with a knee, hand, foot and a back injury.
The year from hell is over, the Flyers defenseman said. I started the season with a surgery and Im going to end it probably, who knows, whether I get another one or not.
Pronger underwent three surgeries, played just 50 regular season games, three playoff games, and could be facing a fourth surgery for a possible herniated disk, which shot pain down his leg.
From an injury standpoint, its been the toughest year, he said. You start to get back and start feeling good, and another one crops up.
Hopefully, a good summer of training and rehab on the various issues that Ive had this year will rectify all those, and I can come into camp next year in a lot better shape, a lot healthier, and able to hopefully play 82 games next year.
Pronger, speaking on a conference call during break-up day at Skate Zone, said he has several appointments with back specialists on Tuesday.
I will know more as to my status, as to my direction where were headed after, he said.
Pronger wants to avoid back surgery.
You only have to look at how John LeClairs Flyer career ended after undergoing back surgery to know the risks. He had surgery in October of 2000 with the noted Robert Watkins in Los Angeles, but played just 16 games that season.
True, LeClair would play five more years in the NHL, but he went from a 40-goal scorer to mid-20s after the surgery.
I dont know if its to that point or not, Pronger said of possible surgery. Ive got to see what the doctors see, what their recommendations are, and then weigh the pros and cons to whatever it is that we decide to do, and go from there.
Pronger, 36, said he is not worried about fulfilling the remaining six years on his seven-year contract.
His back began bothering him in Game 7 against Buffalo in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Recall that Pronger played limited minutes 4:33 in Game 6 appearing on the power play, then jumped right into a complete role for Game 7, logging 17:27 minutes.
It started to bother me a little bit in Game 7, Pronger said. I didnt know what it was.
Asked if played too much in Game 7, Pronger didnt feel that was an issue.
The amount of ice time I got has nothing to do with the injury, he said.
Pronger then played 19:45 in Game 1 against Boston, but didnt appear again in the Eastern Conference semifinals series, which the Flyers lost in four games.
The more time, the worse it gets, he said. It just gradually got worse and worse every day.
He said he had no idea whether he would have been able to come back in the playoffs had the Flyers advanced.
With the medical marvels out there, who knows? he said. I cant answer that. Until you are put into that position, I guess you dont know.
As for the fractured right hand, he says its still not strong enough and will require more rehab this summer.
It was to the point where I could play, but I still dont have a lot of grip strength and still dont have full range of motion, he said. I just need to continue rehab.
He plans his usual summer training program with more rehab this time.
Coach Peter Laviolette said Pronger's absence was enormous in the Boston series.
I really felt like we missed Chris in the Boston series, Laviolette said. You saw the damage Zdeno Chara was doing at the other end of the ice and the difficulties we had. Lets be honest. We didnt generate what we needed to generate in the offensive zone and Pronger plays half the game. You remove Chris from a scenario like that Youre taking an elite defenseman who plays half the game out of your lineup.
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