It is often discussed how players who have predominantly skated in Europe will adjust to North American style hockey… and even culture being so far from their native lands for most of the calendar year.
Typically you would be talking younger, draft eligible or even already drafted players, but that’s not always the case.
For the Flyers that exception has taken place two years in-a-row, the most recent being the now 30-year-old Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who quickly found a home in Philadelphia both on the ice and off it.
Bellemare not only made the opening night roster for the Flyers having virtually no experience on the smaller ice sheet, but skated in 81 of their 82 games. He recorded six goals and 12 points and finished third on the team (second among all forwards) for the most short-handed time-on-ice at over 167 minutes.
For his efforts, he was awarded a multi-year contract extension on Mar. 2.
Although he finished the season, Bellemare underwent surgery on his shoulder in mid-April. PhiladelphiaFlyers.com checked-in on Bellemare on how his rehab is progressing and thoughts on his first NHL season.
How are you feeling now?
“Pretty unbelievable. I have pretty much most of my movement back already. At least any movement that I need on a normal day basis.”
Was it tough playing through it at the end of the season and have you had an injury like this before?
“I had it for a while. It wasn’t a situation where I felt it all the time on the ice. It was really a particular moment of the game or on a shift when I held my stick or arm in a special way. It wasn’t really a pain that I felt all the time, so I didn’t change so much. At the end of the season when we did the exams I didn’t know that it was so bad, so that was tough because I was talking about and expecting to go to the World Championships and I had a decision to make.”
Was it hard not to go to the World Championships?
“Yes. I’ve been at the World Championships since 2003. Since then, I broke my finger once and I couldn’t go, otherwise I’ve always been there. I’ve always been one of the guys that pushed guys outside of the country to come help the nation because we don’t have so may players. So it was a tough decision… The national team understood right away that it was important for me to take care so everybody kind of help me make the decision easy to do the surgery.”
What are some of the things you've been doing throughout your rehab process?
“We started the next day [after surgery]. It was a lot of really small movements that anybody would do. It wasn’t doing a workout - it’s just rehab and we do it about three times a week. The other two days I’m starting to work on my conditioning and my legs. I’m not allowed to run or with anything that has bouncing, but I’m allowed to bike.”
Do you have to wear the sling all the time?
“I really didn’t need it, but because Monday, Wednesday and Friday were the rehab, if I want to give a better chance every time I have a rest and have my shoulder recover the right way, then I wore the sling just to make sure my shoulders doesn’t move. Now, it's been past the four-week point, so I've stopped wearing it.”
You'll be ready to go at Training Camp?
“Oh yeah. I will be all set to go at the start of June to re-start my summer preparation like if I were in normal shape. The fact that I didn’t go to the World Championships definitely helped me to not lose any time.”
Are you looking forward to getting to next season already?
“Yes. After the season we had it kind of feels like… I’m hungry. It felt like it ended too soon and it feels like its a different position. I know now when I’m coming back exactly the side that I have to work on to help the team, instead of stuff I had to work on myself to be a part of the team since it’s not my first year. Now I know what to expect which is going to help me in my workout this summer to be a better player.”
Have you followed the NHL Playoffs?
“I followed a little bit. I’ve never been a guy that followed the NHL. I actually follow more NBA than NHL, but I followed the World Championships.”