Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger is no stranger to hard work, but he's got even more work ahead of him heading into training camp next month.
On July 27, Pronger had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to remove loose particles. The surgery wasn't extensive, and Pronger already is back in Philadelphia working out.
"I had some loose bodies floating around in there," he told the Flyers' Web site. "They also were looking to see if there was any other damage done, which there wasn't."
Pronger thought he'd be able to avoid surgery, but it was during a family vacation in July that he realized there was a significant problem.
"I was on vacation and was actually seeing a therapist there because it was still pretty swollen and sore," said Pronger. "I wanted to stay on top of it and make sure that once my body had enough time to rest and recover I would be able to start training again. As we continued to go through the steps to get the swelling down and get my range of motion back, my knee started to flair up again. At that point I knew there had to be something wrong. It never really felt good after the moment I hurt it. It was just a matter of time. We got an MRI right after I hurt it but sometimes those things don’t show up. I came back early from vacation to get another MRI and had the surgery a week later.
"I started rehab on Monday (Aug. 9). Today is Wednesday so we are in the very, very early stages of rehab, just trying to get my range of motion and strength back. Obviously there is a lot of atrophy. I haven't really had a chance to do anything in two months. A lot of atrophy took place during this time. Right now it's just about building the muscle back up and going from there."
Pronger said he doesn't expect to be 100 percent when training camp opens in September.
"With the amount of (muscle) atrophy it is going to take a lot of hard work to build the leg muscles back up," he said. "Obviously I will be 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 over taxing any one part of your body."
Pronger said he knows exactly when he was hurt -- overtime of Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the Boston Bruins.
"It was a three-minute shift to start the overtime in Game 1 against Boston," 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. I just tried to maintain it, rest it and drain it. We also tried to keep it as strong as possible through different methods that the trainer (Jim McCrossin) and I implemented."
Considering Pronger led all defensemen in the playoffs with 18 points and all players with an average of 29:03 of ice time per game -- including five games after he hurt his knee where he played at least 30 minutes -- it's amazing he played as well as he did.
"I didn't quite have the (full) range of motion," Pronger said. "But I think my play speaks for itself. Let's leave it at that."
After training camp, Pronger hopes to be as close to 100 percent as possible when the season starts Oct. 7 in Pittsburgh.
"I hope to be in the lineup on Oct. 7, but it is still very early on in the process to begin guessing on a timeframe," he said. "A lot can happen over the next few weeks and months but absolutely that is one of the goals."
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