Hartnell out 4-8 weeks; Flyers to sign Knuble

Hartnell out 4-8 weeks; Flyers to sign Knuble

January 24, 2013, 7:00 pm

Simon Gagne. Brayden Schenn. Jeff Carter. Chris Pronger.

And now, Scott Hartnell.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren on Thursday confirmed Flyers fans’ worst fears: Hartnell, as the players listed above have suffered in the past, has a broken foot. He could miss four to eight weeks.

“He’s got a broken first metatarsal (big toe) on his left foot,” Holmgren said. “Right now, we’re trying to decide with talking to the doctor what the best way to proceed is in terms of how to approach this.”

The loss hurts. But to at least begin to fill the void, the team will sign unrestricted free agent – and former Flyer – Mike Knuble, according to a source. Now 40, Knuble was a fan favorite during his time with the Flyers (2005-09), and was well known for what he was able to do in front of the net. He'll also be a welcomed veteran influence in the locker room.

Knuble has lost a step since the days he spent with the Flyers, but he did average 28 goals and 55 points a season while a Flyer. During his best season in orange and back, 2005-06, he had 34 goals (65 points). He started out this season on a tryout with the Detroit Red Wings, but played just one game with their AHL club before being released. He registered an assist in that game.

The move will bring the Flyers up to 49 contracts out of their maximum of 50. If Scott Laughton remains with the team beyond the weekend -- as it is expected he will -- they will hit the 50 contract mark, according to Holmgren.

Hartnell suffered his injury in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Devils in New Jersey when a shot from the point by Kimmo Timonen hit him in the laces – the most vulnerable area on a skate.

Considering the sizable list of Flyers who’ve succumbed to foot injuries after blocking a shot, it’s not unreasonable to wonder why more Flyers don’t wear skate guards on the outside of their boots – it’s something they’ve discussed.

But, Holmgren said, it’s not so simple.

“It hinders guys a little bit,” he said. “You don’t want to mess with a player’s skates. Whether it makes them heavier or wider, when they go to make a turn they kind of slip. It’s a little bit of an issue.”

Players, however, do wear the skate guards when working on power-play drills in practice.

The other guys
Danny Briere, working to return from a fractured wrist, had X-rays again on Thursday, but Holmgren was awaiting their results.

“He’s getting better,” Holmgren said. “And I would say he’s maybe 50/50 on the weekend.”

Zac Rinaldo, who suffered a laceration on his right thigh Sunday in Buffalo, is coming along too. He is, however, unlikely to play this weekend when the Flyers face the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

“He skated today,” Holmgren said. “Some tightness, feels like a charley horse to him. The wound is healed up fairly quickly.”

Loose pucks
Kurtis Foster, who had some bruises but could have played at New Jersey, again did not suit up. He told CSN’s Lisa Hillary he was ready to play. Obviously, this is a coach's decision on Peter Laviolette's part.

Tim Panaccio contributed to this story.