Compared to what he has endured the last few weeks, stopping a 100-mph slap shot by Bobby Hull probably seemed like child’s play for Bernie Parent, the Flyers goaltender great.
First, he had four teeth pulled and two implants inserted. A week later, he underwent extensive back surgery that will have him rehabbing down the road.
“I didn’t know I was married to the Bionic Man,” cracked Gini Parent, the Hall of Famer’s wife, on Tuesday. “He has more parts in him than the Bionic Man.”
Parent was in a car accident Sept. 24, driving home with his wife from a Flyers exhibition game when they were struck by a drunk driver.
Avoiding back surgery was the goal. Four epidurals and numerous physical-therapy sessions later, the back pain did not subside, so the 74-year-old Parent underwent fusion surgery a little more than two weeks ago. A five-hour operation, in which two rods and six screws were inserted, was performed at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Parent, who led the Flyers to Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975 and is one of the most popular athletes ever to grace the city, cannot begin physical therapy until two months after the surgery, giving the back time to heal. For now, he is taking small steps. Literally. Using a walker for his weak legs and wearing a brace, he traverses around his Warrington neighborhood with his wife by his side.
“They want him to walk one or two blocks a day, and each day increasing that,” Gini Parent said. “That’s our big excursion: going for a walk. Each day, he gets a little stronger.”
She said her husband “is 74, but he’s really 54 in mind and spirit, at the most.”
“She says I’m 54. When she puts her bikini on, I’m 24,” Bernie Parent said about his wife of three years.
Despite the pain and being stuck around the house and unable to drive for at least two months, Parent is still his old positive self, putting out upbeat messages almost daily on his Twitter feed, such as:
Said Parent, who still works for the Flyers as an ambassador, in his familiar French-Canadian accent: “For me, it’s very important to share the love. The bottom line is to have vision to make life interesting. And you never know where [his message] goes. Somebody who really needs somebody else, and it helps them have a good day. That’s what it’s all about. It’s a beautiful thing.”
As for the Flyers, even though they missed the playoffs, Parent doesn’t think they’re far away because they finally appear to have their long-term goalie, Carter Hart.