Looking Inside Chris Pronger's Knee is a Pleasing Experience

Looking Inside Chris Pronger's Knee is a Pleasing Experience

Chris Pronger spoke with reporters this afternoon discussing his recent knee surgery in addition to all of the other ailments that have hit him over the past few seasons.

He indicates it's "this could happen to anybody" type of injuries but, over the past two seasons, we've seen him emerge from one injury with a completely different one. While taking a puck to the hand or a stick to the eye has nothing to do with age, the ability to recover and stay in game-shape while not doing everyday routines, could be related to it. Also alarming is that they don't seem to have any idea (or aren't saying) what the virus is exactly.

He's passed his concussion test, but he's not out of the woods on whatever is slowing his body down. That said, the doctor who looked inside his knee the other day was pleased with what he saw.

The full Pronger transcript:

Q: When did you have your surgery and how are you feeling? 

A: I had the surgery on Tuesday afternoon. I’m feeling okay just ice and elevation, trying to get the swelling out and I start my rehab tomorrow 

Q: Holmgren said the other day that you would be out for 4 weeks. Are you optimistic that it will be four weeks? Do you think you could be back sooner than that? 

A: I have no idea. Again, I had surgery two days ago, so  once I start getting my rehab going, as I progress through that I’ll know a bit more. Gauging off of when I had my other knee done a couple of years ago, a month sounds about right, but again, it may be 3 weeks, it may be 6 weeks, I don’t know. We just kind of gave a ballpark number because we don’t really know. 

Q: You mentioned the other surgery and that one took about 9 weeks. Homer said he thought that one was more involved…did the doctors tell you what was different about this surgery compared to the one you had two years ago?

 A: There was a little bit more damage on the one a couple years ago. There were pretty big chunks they took out and it was not as clean as this knee was. The doctor was pretty pleased when he got in there to see what exactly was involved and was pretty please with what he saw. 

Q: Did you feel like you were almost ready to come back from the virus and then this whole thing with the knee came up? 

A: Well, my knee had kind of been bothering me. It’s gradually gotten worse since I came back from the eye injury. When I stopped skating, as I started to try to work out, it started to bother me. I’d do daily workouts and try to do legs every other day and it got to a point where I couldn’t do my leg workouts so I knew something was wrong. I went and got the MRI and got a plan to get it fixed very quickly as opposed to last time, Tim, when you got mad at me for doing it so late. 

Q: Was there anything that you did when you played that would have contributed to this injury? 

A: Not that I know of. I don’t remember ever getting hit; I don’t remember ever catching it in a rut or doing anything. I don’t know what it’s from…I have a couple suspicions, but I don’t really know.

Q: How frustrating is this for you? Last year you said was the season from hell and this year so far you’ve had three different issues. How tough it for you mentally now with this kind of start? 

A: Again, I was pretty pleased with how my summer went with training and obviously got in a preseason game and felt like I got a pretty good start to the season. When you have a fluke injury where you get slashed in the face with a stick and now the knee, it’s a little disheartening. But I felt like I was playing pretty well when I got hurt the first time. It just sets you back. You’re just starting to get your rhythm, you’re starting to get in your groove and you’re comfort level is very high and this kind of sets you back. I have to go through that whole process again whenever I do get back. 

Q: How scary was the virus? When we asked Paul he didn’t really know what it was. He said there were tests but it wasn’t anything overly-serious… 

A: I just didn’t feel well. I didn’t know what it was, we said it was a virus but I didn’t know what it was. I had never felt like that before, where I had headaches and nausea and all the rest of that stuff. So I had a concussion test. I took the baseline test and passed that… I’ve just never felt like this where you get lightheaded, you have headaches, you’re nauseous...It’s been a bit of a mystery with what exactly is going on. I did some blood-work and we’re trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on. 

Q: Is this one of those things, with your surgery, where you might’ve been able to play but you wanted to take care of it so that when it comes time for the games that really matter—the playoffs—you can be 100 percent?

A: I think if it was the playoffs or the Stanley Cup Final, I could play, but it was to the point where I wouldn’t have played very well. We can always say we can play but at what level and at what detriment are you playing? At this stage in the season, not knowing the other side of it, it was prudent to get it done now so that if I’m able to return in 4 weeks, let’s say, then I’m able to get 3 weeks in before the all star break and then put the hammer down after that, as we get into the playoff stretch. 

Q: When you go through something like this-- when you’ve had so many surgeries-- do u do any soul searching and say, my body’s breaking down here, how long do I want to go through this? Or do you say to yourself, hey, I did have a fluke injury with the eye but now I have both of my knees taken care of so they should be good to go for a few more years…? 

A: Well you have to look at the injuries in their totality. I got hit with a puck and I broke my foot. I got hit with a puck in the hand and I broke my hand. I got slashed in the face and hurt my eye. The knees are things that, you know, I hurt my knee in the game against Boston in the Stanley cup playoff and this one was from I don’t know what. The only one that was really perplexing was the back. I don’t really know how or what happened there and probably never will. It’s just one of those things. You look at the number of the injuries and they would seem to be kind of fluky. Three of them I got hit with the puck or a stick. Are those everyday hockey occurrences? Yeah, it could happen to anybody. When you play the game hard and you play a lot of minutes you’re that much more inclined to have something happen to you because you’re always out there. So you still have to take a look at it as, yeah, I’ve had a lot of surgeries and it takes a toll on your body but you’ve got to continue to follow rehab protocol and follow guidance of the doctors and try to make sure that you’re doing the best you can to take care of your body and take care of your mind at the same time to prepare yourself to be ready when you do get back. 

Q: Just to be clear, are you still dealing with the effects of the virus? Or whatever you said you wanted to call it? 

A: Yeah, I’m not quite…again, we’re still trying to ascertain what’s going on, and like I said, I’ve never felt like this before so...I don’t really know what’s going on.

Union-Crew 5 things: Still in good position, Jim Curtin's club looks to rebound

Union-Crew 5 things: Still in good position, Jim Curtin's club looks to rebound

Union at Crew
7:30 p.m. on TCN

Despite being dominated by Toronto FC on Saturday, the Union (9-9-7) managed to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, thanks to a handful of fortunate results around the league. But if the club wants to better its odds for the postseason, it needs to take care of business at Mapfre Stadium on Wednesday night against the Columbus Crew (4-8-11).

Here are five things to know for the matchup:

1. Playoff push
It hasn’t been a convincing few weeks for the Union. Although the club still sits fourth in the Eastern Conference despite one win in its last six games, it needs points to stay afloat. That quest begins on Wednesday against the Crew.

“The focus is getting points,” Union defender Richie Marquez said. “For us, home or away, we need three points because we need to solidify that playoff spot.”

As of now the Union are in snug playoff position with 34 points — one ahead of the Montreal Impact and six in front of D.C. United and Orlando City for the sixth and final playoff spot. On the plus side, the club is one point behind the New York Red Bulls with a game in hand.

“It’s a push to get into the playoffs and try to see how high we can end up in the table,” Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya said. “It’s important we don’t look too much at the standings because anything can happen in this league. It’s all really tight. It’s important we go to Columbus with the right mentality and come back to Philly with three points.”

2. Coming off a loss
Speaking of the playoff push, the Union’s dream of being a top-two seed in the East took a major hit on Saturday in a 3-1 bashing by Toronto FC. The loss put Toronto up six and New York City FC up seven on the Union. 

Worst of all, it crushed all Union momentum coming out of a 4-0 win over the New England Revolution a week prior. Still, the club maintains its confidence heading into Wednesday.

“I feel good about this team and the players we have,” Bedoya said. “The goals we gave up were too easy. We have talent on this team, but there’s little things we have to fix. Once we get those right, we’ll be tough to break down.” 

As Jim Curtin explained, the short turnaround from Saturday actually works in the Union’s favor. 

“We were smart with how we managed the past two days in terms of getting the guys massages, taking care of their bodies, eating right and getting enough sleep,” he said. “They’ll be ready to go, they’re itching to get the bad taste out of their mouth after the Toronto game.”

3. Win-starved Crew
With the help of Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain, the Crew took down the floundering Revolution over the weekend. But that’s nothing to celebrate over. It was just the club’s fourth win of the season and second since May 28. 

The Crew are currently closer to having the lowest point total in MLS than a playoff spot.

“It’s been tough,” Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said. “It’s a team that I believe in deeply but it’s natural that confidence dips when you don’t get the results. It’s about believing in our playing style and fine-tuning things, approving in some areas. I think we did that in the last game.” 

Though the Crew attempt to climb out of the basement on Wednesday, they know what they are up against. The Union took the first season meeting against the Crew, 2-1, and the second, 3-2. 

“They added Bedoya, who is a quality player,” Berhalter said. “Other than that, it’s similar to what they’ve been doing all year with [C.J.] Sapong and talented players behind him. Bedoya makes a good difference there, but they are a solid group and they’ll play with intensity. From our side, we’ll have to be smart how we approach the game.”

4. Keep an eye on ...
Union: Facing the Crew twice this season, the Union have five goals. Chris Pontius has three of them. The Union forward scored the brace on March 12, then buried another on June 1. 

Crew: MLS rookie Ola Kamara leads the Crew with 10 goals, including one against the Union on June 1. Since May 28, the forward has 10 goals and one assist in 12 games.

5. This and that
• Facing the Crew has always been tough for the Union. Including two wins this season, the Union are 6-10-1 against the Crew all-time.

• The Union have only suffered back-to-back losses twice this season, and both times it happened in the club’s last 10 games.

• Of Kamara’s 10 goals this season, six have come at home. 

• The first-ever meeting between the Union and Crew happened on Aug. 5, 2010, and was a 2-1 loss for the Union. Sebastien Le Toux scored a penalty kick but Steven Lenhart buried the brace.

How Jim Schwartz changed Stephen Tulloch's career

How Jim Schwartz changed Stephen Tulloch's career

Stephen Tulloch hasn’t just had a successful NFL career under Jim Schwartz. He’s had a successful career because of Jim Schwartz.

“I have a lot of love and respect for Coach Schwartz,” Tulloch said following his first practice with the Eagles (see story).

On Tuesday, the Eagles’ newest linebacker credited Schwartz for the Titans’ drafting him with the 116th overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft. He said Schwartz pushed for him, “when nobody else really wanted to go after” him.

“I’ll leave you with this story,” Tulloch began.

“So in 2006, I go to the NFL combine. I measure in at 5-10 and some change, whatever I was. It was the second day of the draft and [the Titans] were about to draft a guy from another school, so Coach Schwartz goes into [Jeff] Fisher’s office and makes a little tape of my highlights from college, and (former Titans linebackers coach) Dave McGinnis at the time. He changed Coach Fisher’s mind and Floyd Reese at the time was the general manager. I was the 116th pick in the [2006] draft. That was it. I came to Tennessee and the rest was history.”

So, who was the player the Titans almost drafted?

“I’m not gonna put it out there,” he said. “It was another guy and I’m fortunate enough to get drafted and still be here in the league.”

The decision worked out well for the Titans. Eventually, Tulloch became a starter and played five total years in Tennessee before moving on to Detroit. 

As for the other linebackers in the 2006 draft, well, Tulloch was one of 15 linebackers taken in the fourth round or later in 2006. To date, Tulloch has started 111 games. The other 14 have started a combined 138.

The other two linebackers taken in the fourth round in 2006 were Leon Williams to the Browns and Jamar Williams to the Bears. Leon Williams (pick No. 110) last played in 2012 and started just 12 NFL games, while Jamar Williams (pick No. 120) played five years and has just three career starts to his name.

Tulloch is still going strong. And he owes a lot to Jim Schwartz.

“I always thank him for the opportunity I had in Tennessee,” Tulloch said.

Jake Thompson left searching for answers after latest rough start

Jake Thompson left searching for answers after latest rough start

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — On the whole, the Phillies have made steady progress in their rebuild this season.

Cameron Rupp has improved. Maikel Franco has had a nice year. Odubel Herrera, even with his recent inconsistency, has had more ups than downs. Cesar Hernandez has been on a good roll. Freddy Galvis has 36 extra-base hits, and Tommy Joseph has opened eyes with his power. In the bullpen, Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos have shown that they just might be future studs.
 
For a good chunk of the season, the young starting pitching has shown promise, as well.
 
But lately, that corner of the team has taken some hits. Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin were both ruled out for the remainder of the season last week with elbow and knee injuries, respectively, and hard-throwing Vince Velasquez has been tagged for 19 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings over his last three starts.
 
Jake Thompson’s first four major-league starts haven’t exactly inspired confidence, either. The 22-year-old right-hander was hit hard in a 9-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay). He gave up eight hits, including five for extra bases, and seven runs as his ERA swelled to 9.78. Only Mike Maddux (9.98) in 1986 had a higher ERA for the Phillies in his first four big-league starts.
 
“I’m not used to this,” Thompson said after the defeat. “I feel certain that I’m a lot better than my performance has indicated.”
 
Few pitchers come to the big leagues and dazzle right away. There is a learning curve and occasionally growing pains. But no one expected Thompson to have this much trouble out of the chute, not after what he did in his final 11 starts at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
 
Thompson went 8-0 in those 11 starts and recorded a 1.21 ERA while allowing just 10 earned runs in 74 1/3 innings. He gave up just 52 hits and 18 walks over that span while striking out 42.
 
In four starts with the big club, he has given up 22 hits and 21 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. He has walked 13 and struck out 13.
 
He was advertised as a control and command pitcher. He has yet to show that in the majors.
 
“A lot of it has to do with his age and, I think, the fact he’s in the big leagues for the first time trying to make a good impression,” manager Peter Mackanin said. “He probably feels like he needs to make perfect pitches every time. All he’s got to do is keep the ball down. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff. He relies on command and control and he hasn’t shown that. I attribute a lot of that to his youth and inexperience.”
 
So does Rupp, the catcher.
 
“How many guys do you see come to the big leagues at 22 years old and just flat out dominate every time they go out?” Rupp said. “Not very many. He's young. It was his first time in Triple A this year and he pitched really well and now he's got a chance in the big leagues. I'm sure he feels like there's pressure. When you come up and you pitch so well all year and then you finally get your opportunity, you want to impress. It puts a lot on you. And as a kid, you've got to be able to control it and it's tough. It's hard.

“Nobody wants to see anybody fail. It's hard to go through. It's something that's going to make him better when he does finally figure it out."
 
Two of the walks Thompson gave up Tuesday night became runs. He gave up back-to-back homers to Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau in the fifth inning as the White Sox turned it into a rout.
 
“Just too many pitches up in the strike zone,” Mackanin said. “Everything he threw was thigh high, waist high. He couldn’t get the ball down. It’s as simple as that.”
 
Thompson concurred with his manager.
 
“The issue is pretty evident,” he said. “I'm not throwing strikes and when I am throwing strikes, they're not good strikes. It’s a frustrating thing because it's a relatively easy thing to do. I don't really have the answer right now to fix it.”
 
The game moves fast at the big-league level and confidence can become bruised quickly. Thompson said his confidence was unshaken. Still, Phillies officials have to be careful that this difficult baptism to the majors does not snowball and become something that adversely impacts Thompson's growth.
 
“It’s something that you’re concerned about and I’m concerned about,” Mackanin said.
 
Concerned enough that Thompson might not make his next start?
 
Mackanin said he expected Thompson to stay in the rotation, but added that he would speak with general manager Matt Klentak on the topic.
 
“I don’t want to see him keep getting beat up and keep struggling like this,” Mackanin said. “We’ll talk about it and see what Matt wants to do.”