Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton will have back surgery Oct. 11, and it's expected he'll miss 6-8 weeks.
Leighton, who already was on the long-term injured list and expected to miss about a month with a bulging disc, will have a procedure called a partial discectomy on Monday performed by Dr. Alex Vacarro.
He said he originally didn't think the back pain he began having during the playoffs last spring was all that serious.
“I kind of dealt with it a little bit in playoffs last year,” Leighton told the Flyers' website. “It wasn’t bothering me when I was playing, it was just more of an off-ice thing, when I was stretching it was stiff. I did deal with it in the summer. I got some tests done and it wasn’t very severe in the summer. All through training camp it was still there, but it didn’t bother me on the ice so I just kind of worked through it. I was told to do exercises and work through it. Then in that Toronto game it kind of jumped to a new level and totally did different things. I’m obviously disappointed with the way it went.”
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren was the one who broke the news to his goaltender.
“We didn’t really know that much about it until he had an issue in the summertime, and we’re still not certain it was related to this,” Holmgren said via conference call. “It is what it is now. What’s cropped up here lately is the weakness in his legs. The doctors just want to get ahead of it, and they think this is the best way to deal with it right now. So that’s what we’re doing.”
Leighton was a revelation last season, saving the Flyers' season after they claimed him on waivers from Carolina in December and he led them to the Stanley Cup Final. He went 16-5-2 with a 2.48 goals-against average in 27 regular-season games, and then led all playoff goaltenders with a 2.46 GAA and three shutouts in 14 games.
Rookie Sergey Bobrovsky started and won Thursday's opener in Pittsburgh; veteran Brian Boucher is serving as his backup.