Flyers Camp Opens with Abundance of Injury News

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Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers opened training camp on Thursday morning and, to no surprise, went right to work on skating drills. So much so that there was not a single puck on the ice for the entire session.

As the first on-ice group was wrapping up an intense skating session, one that was as advertised from coach John Tortorella, Chuck Fletcher was addressing the off-ice concerns the Flyers already face. Before the puck even hits the ice, the Flyers are already dealing with more than their share of injury woes.

Obviously, the big news was Sean Couturier. At this point, there is no further update on Couturier. Fletcher said he was getting a second opinion from a specialist on Thursday and a treatment plan will be decided following that visit. While it is too soon to know just how much of this season Couturier will miss and how this could affect his career, Fletcher didn’t dismiss the notion either. The team remains optimistic that this can be resolved and Fletcher added that Couturier is feeling better than he did last season.

“I know it’s in the same area as the last injury. I know he’s been following the medical guidance of the doctors and our medical staff. I know over the summer he was improving,” Fletcher said. “At some point over the last week, things deteriorated and he got to the point where he was not sleeping as well and experiencing some pain. It’s a tricky injury. There’s a whole host of components that impact your back. We’ll try to get to the bottom of it and we’ll do what’s best for Sean.”

The other big news was some clarity on Ryan Ellis. It was no surprise to hear that Ellis was not skating and out indefinitely to start training camp. That was already anticipated. But for the first time, Fletcher acknowledged what was increasingly possible. Ellis is not expected to play this season and this could be a career-ending injury.

“The last two months, there hasn’t been any visible signs of progress,” Fletcher said. “It’s been a frustrating injury. Nobody’s more frustrated than Ryan. Nobody wants to play more than Ryan, but we’re dealing with reality now.”

In addition to Couturier and Ellis, Patrick Brown had off-season back surgery and will be out week-to-week. Bobby Brink is coming along from his offseason surgery and could get back on the ice soon. The best case scenario for his return is still late December to early January.

Joel Farabee was on the ice for the first day of skating, but is not cleared for contact yet following offseason disc replacement surgery in his neck. He remains week-to-week, but is making good progress.

Imagine getting on the ice for the first day of training camp, a clean slate with a new head coach, and immediately starting behind the eight ball due to injuries to multiple key players. It sets the tone in a completely different way, especially to a fan base that needs more than their fair share of convincing to invest in the team. 

As much as it may be a new chapter for the franchise with Tortorella’s arrival, it feels like a continuation of the previous chapters given the Flyers overall health. Injuries have derailed many seasons over the years, but this is on an entirely new level before the season even gets underway.

As a result of the injuries, the Flyers could have plenty of room for young players. Fletcher said he envisions possibly 10 players under the age of 25 being on the roster. Despite that, the Flyers will have plenty of cap space tied up into long-term injured reserve and still be tight on cap space to make any sort of roster adjustments.

It simply prolongs an offseason that was filled with questions about the direction of the team and the potential plan they had to get there. It sure seems like the dawn of a new camp hit the Flyers with a healthy dose of reality about their own health.

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