Sunday, November 29, 2015

Betts at a career cross-roads

Blair Betts may have played his last game in a Philadelphia Flyers uniform.

Betts at a career cross-roads

Blair Betts (above) may be facing retirement. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Blair Betts (above) may be facing retirement. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Blair Betts may have played his last game in a Philadelphia Flyers uniform.

Betts, one of the true professionals and classy guys in the Flyers’ locker room, was returned to the team on Sunday after failing a physical with the Montreal Canadiens after being claimed on waivers last Wednesday.

That meant that he was back at the team’s practice facility on Monday just five days after they let him go.

“It’s been a roller-coaster mentally,” Betts told the Daily News. “When I heard I was getting put on waivers, I was hoping to be picked up. That happened and I was excited about getting a chance to play for the Montreal Canadiens and a chance to play in the NHL again.

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“That’s basically as far as I got. I flew into Toronto expecting to play. That morning, I went to the rink and found out that they wanted to get me checked out before I played.

“Then, for four or five days, I was doing nothing up there. They wouldn’t let me skate. I was just doing rehab. I kind of had a funny feeling that things weren’t going to work out there.”

Now, it appears that things aren’t going to work out in Philadelphia, either.

Betts said he is no longer “a part of the lineup.”

The Flyers are stuck. Since he is injured, Betts cannot be assigned to the AHL. He cannot be put back on waivers. As it stands, his $700,000 salary is counting against the salary cap, too.

That forced the Flyers to prematurely put Ian Laperriere on the long-term injured list on Sunday just to get under the daily number. The Flyers were banking long-term injury list cushion with Laperriere just on the regular injured reserve.

Instead, the Flyers don’t know exactly what to do with Betts. He has battled a number of injuries over his career, missing 27 games over the last two seasons with the Flyers alone.

“He’s going to get checked out here,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. “We’ll see what the issues are, if there are any. And we’ll deal with them when, if we find out. I don’t know anything more. We knew he had a bone bruise from a game when he got hit with a puck. He had some blood taken [out] of his knee before.

“But our doctors cleared him and we placed him on waivers.”

Holmgren said that Betts is “a tough player” who has “played through a lot of issues.”

Betts said he was not surprised Montreal’s doctors found something. He has been dealing with a wonky left knee for a long time. Holmgren said Betts’ MRI in Toronto revealed something, but wouldn’t say what. Betts, 31, had practiced throughout training camp without missing time.

“I think it was just something that I’ve been dealing with for a long time,” Betts said. “It’s something that I’ve had to manage. But I think I’ve been doing as good a job managing it as I can.

“It’s something that causes me grief every day. They felt it was too much of a liability.”

Betts said it will be hard to handle with the fact that he is not a part of the Flyers’ team anymore, despite the fact that he is under contract and needs rehab. He is not sure whether he can have surgery to repair the knee. Even if he does go under the knife, there is no guarantee his problem will have resolve.

“We’re going to discuss that over the next couple of days and decide what’s best for my career at this point,” Betts said. “We’ll have to see what our doctors in Philadelphia think and go from there.”

Nonetheless, Betts has remained upbeat. He is at a career cross-roads and he has been here before, last time when he entered Flyers' camp in 2009 as a tryout. He was once labeled by the New York Post as the best penalty-killer in Rangers franchise history. If this is the end, the 7-year veteran from Edmonton, Alberta, sounded happy to have carved out a big-league career this long.

“It’s a little difficult to deal with ... that feeling that I’m not part of the lineup, I’m not going to be playing,” Betts said. “I’m back with my family. I’m back with an organization that has treated me really well the last two years of my career. Things could be a lot worse.”

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers

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Daily News Staff Writer
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