Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, who had minor knee surgery on July 27, said yesterday he would not be 100 percent for training camp and might not be in the lineup for the season opener.
When the Flyers released the news of the surgery a week later on Aug. 3, general manager Paul Holmgren said: “He will be ready for the start of training camp.”
Pronger, who turns 36 in October, was asked yesterday by Flyers public relations personnel whether he will be 100 percent for camp, which begins Sept. 17. “No. I can tell you that much,” said Pronger, who had “loose bodies” removed from his right knee. “With the amount of atrophy, it is going to take a lot of hard work to build the leg muscles back up.
“Obviously, I will spending a lot of hours in the gym trying to strengthen my knee and the rest of my body. A lot of times when you hurt your knee you walk different and you hurt your back or you hurt your other knee because you are loading that up more. It is really about your body becoming symmetrical again and you’re not overtaxing any one part of your body.”
The Flyers open the regular season on Oct. 7 at Pittsburgh. “I hope to be in the lineup . . .but it is still very early on in the process to begin guessing on a time frame,” said Pronger, who said he will not need a knee brace. “A lot can happen over the next few weeks and months but absolutely that is one of the goals."
Pronger was asked when he thought his knee would be 100 percent. “I do not have a time frame. The team knows that. I spoke to the doctor and trainer and it is really just about when my knee feels good and strong again. I don’t want to come back early and play a couple of games and then be out of the lineup and then play a few more and be out. I want to come back when the knee is as close to 100 percent as possible so I can play every single game from then on.”
Pronger said he hurt his knee in Game 1 against Boston in the conference semifinals. He played 82 regular-season games and 23 playoff games last season. He thought the injury affected his play in the playoffs. “Yes, it was a little tighter,” he said. “I didn’t quite have the range of motion. But I think my play speaks for itself. Let’s leave it at that.”
He said the injury occured in overtime. “It was a 3-minute shift to start the overtime,” he said. “About a minute in, I was in front of the net when there was a scrum. I was on my knees and I got bent backward. I heard a big crunch. It didn’t feel very good for the next 5-7 minutes. Eventually the feeling came back and I was able to get a little bit of strength back.
“But from that game on I didn’t have the usual strength in my knee. We did a lot of things through the rest of the playoffs to try and keep my strength up. I didn’t practice any more after that. I just played the games.”
Pronger had 10 goals, 45 assists and 79 penalty minutes in the regular season. In the playoffs, he had four goals, 14 assists and 36 penalty minutes.
Pronger averaged more than 25 minutes of ice time during the regular season and nearly 30 minutes in the playoffs, as the Flyers made a run to the Stanley Cup finals before losing to the Blackhawks in six games.