For the first time, the Philadelphia Flyers have revealed the nature of a devastating injury that could end defenseman Ryan Ellis’ playing career prematurely.
Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher told reporters Thursday as training camp opened that Ellis suffered a torn psoas muscle in 2021. The torn muscle, which runs from the bottom of the spine to the hip, caused major hip and trunk problems for Ellis.
Officially, Fletcher said Ellis is « indefinitely » unlikely to play this season, and acknowledged the possibility that Ellis may never play again. He has not played since November 13, 2021.
Ellis, 31, played four games for the Flyers last season before picking up the injury, which sources say is unrelated to any previous injuries. With five points in those four games, he seemed like exactly what the Flyers were looking for in a 2021 summer trade from Nashville. Difficult since to pick up the pieces.
Ellis’ injury is devastating. So little is known about the psoas muscle and given its location, it is largely inaccessible to surgical repair. His hip and hip adductors are also in pain, according to Fletcher. It took a long time last season to properly identify and diagnose the injury. It is believed Ellis underwent exploratory procedures in a bid to find relief, as the torn psoas muscle had a significant impact on his ability to lead a normal life away from the rink.
Ellis has five years and nearly $30 million remaining on his contract, which was signed in Nashville. He was acquired by the Flyers on July 17, 2021 in exchange for Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick.
Fletcher also said Thursday that it was « far premature » to speculate that Sean Couturier might be lost for the season. As reported Tuesday, the Flyers are hoping the herniated disc plaguing their Selke Trophy-winning center will heal on its own in six to eight weeks; if surgery is needed, Couturier will miss a significant portion of the season. This is Couturier’s second major back injury in as many seasons.
The Flyers have radically overhauled their medical and coaching staff over the past year. In August, the Flyers announced the hiring of Ian McKeown as Vice President of Adelaide Athlete Performance and Welfare of the Australian Rules Football League. On Wednesday, they added Tommy Alva as head athletic trainer, formerly of the Florida Panthers, and Jeff Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers as physical therapist and rehabilitation coordinator.
The news came as the Flyers retained former coaches Jim McCrossin and Sal Raffa, despite their ongoing lawsuit against the team. In April, McCrossin and Raffa alleged in court papers that they were regularly exposed to dangerous carcinogens emitted from the Zamboni area near the practice facility at the team’s training center in New Jersey. McCrossin said he developed myelofibrosis, a rare and incurable blood cancer, while Raffa developed essential thrombocythemia, a blood disease with no known cure. McCrossin has been retained as senior adviser, while Raffa remains as assistant athletic coach, according to the Flyers’ personnel roster.