It's been 14 days since Chris Pronger underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back, but returning to the ice is still the furthest thing from the Flyers' defenseman's mind. Pronger, who played just 50 regular season games and appeared in only three of the Flyers' 11 playoff games, doesn't know whether he'll be ready to re-join his teammates at the start of next season. In fact, he doesn't even know when he'll be able to skate again – but he remains optimistic that, when he does, he'll return to his previous form. "Everybody is different and everybody recovers differently," Pronger said. "And you hope that you're able to recover 100 percent, but that's never a guarantee and you never know. It's still very early to be able to tell that. I won't know that until probably training camp or maybe even further on. Who knows." What he does know is that he faces a long summer – at minimum – of rehabilitation. Pronger is currently working on rehabbing his right hand, which he fractured earlier this spring. As time progresses, he'll learn more about what will be required to strengthen and repair his back. And all of it requires a great deal of patience from the Flyers' top defenseman. "It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of patience in order to kind of go through the different steps to reach each hurdle," Pronger said. "As you progress in the rehab protocol, you've got to hit a hurdle and then you go to the next one. It takes time, you can't just jump back in to things you want to do. While you may want to do those things, you've got to just buy your time and be patient and just work through the various steps that have been put in place, kind of gauge yourself. "You're going to feel good but you just got to gauge it. A lot of times you've got to tap down a little bit and slow yourself down. You get antsy. It was a tough year, but I want to be able to use this time to make sure I'm healthy when I come back." At 36, and with 17 years in the NHL under his belt, Pronger isn't young. This season, he broke both his foot and his hand, and was told, more or less, that if he hoped to play NHL hockey again, surgery to repair his back was a necessity. And so far, the surgery seems to have been a success. Pronger said he felt improvement immediately after the procedure, noting that the "shooting pain" and "burning sensation" he experienced in his leg was gone. At this point, his return next season depends solely on the timetable for complete healing. "Mentally, I feel like I can play," he said. "When I was healthy, my play speaks for itself. It's a matter of staying healthy. This year was very tough, every time I turned around I had another injury. It wasn't like it was a bump and a bruise, it was something broken that needed surgery to fix. That can be a little disappointing and frustrating, when you know you can still play at a high level and your play speaks to that and you're not able to go out and play."
Flyers' Pronger hopeful yet uncertain about return
CSN Philly | May 27