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Flyers’ Couturier ‘Happy’ to Overcome Doubts, Earn Masterton Nomination

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Sean Couturier
Flyers captain Sean Couturier battled through grueling rehab and self-doubt to earn a Bill Masterton Trophy nomination this season. (Photo: AP)

Ninety-four weeks, or 663 days, separated Sean Couturier’s last game for the Philadelphia Flyers before undergoing back surgery and his first game since returning.

With 70 games played this season and counting, Couturier has proven to others and himself that he is healthy again, en route to his first-ever Bill Masterton Trophy nomination.

“The first time (undergoing back surgery), I wasn’t too worried. It was just like, ‘Ok, done for the year. I’ll be back next year, and it’s time to get ready next season,'” the Flyers’ captain said. “But then when that kind of got taken away from me right before camp, then that was kind of tough to accept, and started having doubts and questions about how, ‘Is this just going to keep coming back every time?'”

In October 2022, Couturier underwent a second back surgery, which effectively eliminated his 2022-23 season. And, although the longtime Flyers forward could have pushed for a return, head coach John Tortorella and current general manager Danny Briere, with the consultation of the training and medical staff, shut that down.

“I’m glad that the second surgery went well and I recovered well,” Couturier added. “Just happy that it’s behind me now, and I can just focus on playing hockey and enjoying playing the game I’ve been playing since I’m a kid.

“Just really happy to be back playing hockey at a high level.”

Couturier, 31, succeeds defenseman Nick Seeler as the Flyers’ most recent Masterton nominee. Former Flyers forward Kevin Hayes was a finalist in 2022 after the passing of his brother, Jimmy, and former Flyers forward and cancer survivor Oskar Lindblom won the Bill Masterton Trophy in 2021 after being a finalist in 2020.

The Masterton Trophy is awarded to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”

Regrettably, Couturier is out injured for the Flyers at the time of his nomination, currently day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The team ruled him out for the back-to-back against Buffalo and Columbus this weekend, though the door is open for Couturier to return next week.

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