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The mystery surrounding Flyers’ Ryan Ellis is finally revealed



Ryan Ellis, Philadelphia Flyers

For months, the Philadelphia Flyers have hid Ryan Ellis’ injury.

For some reason.

It’s somewhat understandable for teams not to reveal an injury because they don’t want opponents to target that area when the player returns.

But in this case, the Flyers have known for several months that Ellis, a 31-year-old defenseman who was the team’s biggest off-season acquisition, would not return this season.

On Saturday, one day after the Flyers’ miserable season ended, Ellis revealed he had a pelvic injury, one he re-aggravated by coming back too soon on Nov. 13 in Dallas. That was the fourth and final game he played this season.

Ellis said he will not need surgery and that doctors have a plan – it involves treatments and workouts, but Ellis said he couldn’t give the specifics — that will hopefully have him ready for training camp in September.

All in all, it sounded like very promising news for the Orange and Black.

“We have a plan in place. It took a long time to figure out what was going on and how to embark on that plan,” Ellis said during a closeout day news conference at the team’s Voorhees practice facility Saturday. “I’m very happy and comfortable.”

‘Long summer’ ahead

Ellis said he and the Flyers’ management, were “on the same page,” and the aim is to be healthy for the start of the 2022-23 season. “I’m excited to be ready for training camp. It’s going to be a long summer, trying to get through it all, but I’m excited.”

His medical issue wasn’t identified until four to six weeks ago, Ellis said.

Asked how difficult it was to come to a new team and only be able to play four games, Ellis was blunt.

“It’s honestly been the hardest year of my life,” he said. “Can’t say I’ve been through anything harder. Coming to a new team, this year was probably the most excited I’ve been for hockey. New team, new city, new fans, new building, you name it. Everything was new and exciting. Our team had unbelievable upside to it all.”

But with “the amount of injuries and whatnot, it obviously didn’t work out the way we wanted it to.”

The Philadelphia Flyers (23-46-11) finished last in the eight-team Metropolitan Division. Coach Mike Yeo said even Scotty Bowman wouldn’t have had success with the injury-ravaged team.

Ryan said his whole life “has been built around playing hockey and that got taken away from me. It’s been draining. With the plan we have and the steps we’re going to take in order to get back ready for next year, I haven’t been this excited in months because I finally have an approach and a path clear to go.”

Frustrating times

During this season, Ellis said, he had “multiple MRIs, (visited) multiple doctors, and multiple different practitioners. Endless. It was just a long year, to be honest, in every capacity. Being around the guys became tough because I can’t play. I can’t help. I can’t do, and I’ve never had that problem before. Whether I was out for a week or for a month, it was always ‘I’ll be back in that month.’  “

He said he was now at peace “ knowing that I will be back next year.”

In retrospect, Ellis said, he rushed back too soon to play a game Nov. 13 and re-aggravated the injury, which first occurred in in the preseason.

“I tried to play through it, and then it happened again. I guess,” he said of re-injuring himself. Looking back, probably rushed it and just made everything worse.”

Before the injury, “ training camp went really well. The team looked great. I think playing with Provy (Ivan Provorov) felt great. First couple of games, personally for me, were good, even though I was injured at that point already.”

Winning culture

Ellis, acquired from Nashville last July for Phil Myers and Nolan Patrick (who was dealt to Vegas), said part of the reason he was brought in here was because he came from a team that had a “great pedigree” and “always made the playoffs.”

In other words, he brought a much-needed winning culture to the sad-sack Flyers.

“I obviously just want to play hockey again. That’s the main thing,” he said with conviction. “Get back on the ice, score a goal, shoot, block a shot, whatever it is. To be honest, it’s kind of sad, but I miss getting hit with a puck and it hurting. Coming off and being like ‘I think I hurt my foot’ or ‘I need an ice bag,’ even the scrums in front of the net, like getting punched in the face. Like you don’t do that after doing it forever. It’s sad, but I miss it. It’s been tough in that sense, but I just want to play here. I want to be part of the solution here. I think I can really help out this team”

He said his wife and kids love the area. They live in Haddonfield.

“If I were playing, this would be heaven for me,” he said. “The only reason it is not is because I’m not playing.”

That will change. He hopes to be more active in the gym in a month, and skating a couple weeks later. “And then ramp it up in July, August and then get going for camp.”

The Great Ryan Ellis Mystery has been identified. His return to good health, along with Sean Couturier’s, would be a start to erasing the memories of a nightmarish season.

But even if they are back and healthy, GM Chuck Fletcher has a lot of work to do this summer.

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