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Flyers Forward Undergoes Another Surgery; More Injuries?

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(Photo: AP)

On Thursday’s episode of Nasty Knuckles, a hockey podcast hosted by former Philadelphia Flyers forward Riley Cote and former Flyers equipment manager Derek Settlemyre, Flyers captain Sean Couturier made an appearance, discussing topics ranging from the Stanley Cup playoffs to being healthy scratched by head coach John Tortorella in March.

However, something else Couturier discussed raised more than a few eyebrows.

“I’m doing some rehab right now,” Couturier said sheepishly. “Had a little sports hernia surgery; lower ab. Feeling great now. About to head back home here this week and start the full training.”

You can watch the full Nasty Knuckles episode, featuring Couturier, here.

This marks the third surgery Couturier’s had in the last two years; you’ll recall the two major back surgeries for injuries that eliminated over half of Couturier’s 2021-22 season in addition to his entire 2022-23 season. The Flyers captain finally returned to play 74 regular season games this past season, but missed a handful due to other injuries and being benched.

Flyers general manager Danny Briere also said in an interview that, at one point, Couturier was playing through as many as five injuries at once. One even forced the 31-year-old to wear a knee brace for a period of time.

“Early on, we were asking a lot of him,” Briere had said. “He was playing on the power play. He was facing all the top lines. He was first on the penalty kill. And Sean was really beat up, too. If you remember, you go back to earlier in the season, Sean was missing some practices here and there.”

With his latest surgery, Couturier becomes one of multiple Flyers players to have undergone offseason surgery, joining defensemen Jamie Drysdale (also abdomen/core) and Rasmus Ristolainen (triceps tendon).

All three players are, fortunately, expected to be ready for training camp and fully recovered, but it’s more than reasonable to question the decision-making processes at play. For example, Couturier may have been forcing himself to play through injuries, facing the embarrassment of being benched for playing poorly, at the expense of trying to make the playoffs.

Ristolainen last played a game in February and his surgery was not announced until April. And then there’s Drysdale, who was pretty much playing injured from Day 1 in Philadelphia. The Flyers lucked out this time, but history does not lend itself well to these kinds of things.

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