Describing it as "a curveball thrown at us," Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said Tuesday afternoon that he was as surprised as anyone to find out earlier in the day that goalie Michael Leighton has a bulging disc in his lower back and will be out until the end of October.
Holmgren also announced that forward Ian Laperriere will be out indefinitely as he is suffering from post-concussion symptoms that likely go back to the injury he suffered when he blocked a puck with his face in the playoffs last season.
Leighton suffered his back injury over the summer and re-aggravated it during Friday night's preseason game in Toronto. Holmgren said Monday that an MRI taken over the weekend revealed no damage, but after follow-up visits with one doctor Monday night and a different doctor Tuesday morning the bulging disc was discovered.
Brian Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky and a still on-the-mend Johan Backlund (hip surgery) remain in competition. Backlund could see his first preseason action later this week.
"It's a bulging disc, and my personal experience with bulging discs is they go back in eventually," Holmgren said. "It's not a herniated disc, which is a bigger issue in and of itself. We think with strengthening and rehab and time he'll be OK. Right now we think that time period is a month. He's in here working out today and doing some other stuff. It's uncomfortable and that's what he's dealing with now. Because of the position of goal it's a little more dicey than maybe a regular player because of the way he's bent over in net."
Holmgren said Laperriere never mentioned suffering from any symptoms over the summer, but he spoke candidly to the GM Saturday regarding how he was feeling. Laperriere was scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday and on Friday he is expected to go to Pittsburgh to meet with the doctor that originally treated him last spring.
"The prudent thing for us to do now is get him checked out properly and see what he's dealing with," Holmgren said.
Holmgren added that Laperriere's status will not force him to sign Bill Guerin, who remains in Flyers' camp on a tryout basis.
"That process will continue as well as some of the kids that we're continuing to look at," Holmgren said. "The play of some of these guys is making the decision making a difficult process, and I don't mean that in a bad way; it's probably a good thing. Billy has played OK. We'll just see how it works out over the next few days."
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