Flyers center Peter Forsberg visited with a doctor on Tuesday afternoon, and it was subsequently decided that he will forego surgery on his left ankle and may return in time for the first game of the 2006-07 regular season.
Below is the transcript of a conference call with Forsberg and Flyers Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach Jim McCrossin, who accompanied Forsberg to Charlotte, North Carolina for the visit with Dr. Robert Anderson. There is also a statement from Flyers General Manager Bob Clarke following the conference call.
Forsberg is continuing to recover from surgery on his right ankle, performed by Anderson on May 15.
McCrossin: "Peter was evaluated by Dr. Anderson today and he was very, very pleased with the progress Peter has made to date. The calcaneus bone, the large bone in the back of the foot is healed. The big toe is about 95 percent healed and we have been given the green light for full rehab. We started rehab last week with Dr. Anderson's blessing but it was limited. Now we are allowed to go ahead full tilt. As of tomorrow we will begin his rehab and obviously the most important part of it is getting Peter's body back to playing the game of hockey.
Q: What is the status of the second surgery?
McCrossin: "At this time there won't be a second surgery. What we are going to do is hold on the second surgery at this time. It was decided by the medical staff that we are going to rehab Peter's left ankle and try to get the muscles of the left ankle as strong as they can possibly be."
Q: What is the reason for forgoing the second surgery and is there any risk of not having it done?
McCrossin: "The ligaments in his left ankle are not as nearly as bad as the ones on the right. They are still fully intact. Now is there always an outside chance of the left ankle going the same way as the right ankle, but at this time, he would be operating on a healthy ligament. Dr. Anderson truly believes that we are going to be able to go ahead and strengthen that right ankle to the point where he will not need surgery."
Q: Does this mean his left ankle will be secured in his boot or is he going to be loose by any degree and therefore subject to any of the groin problems he had resulting from the right?
McCrossin: "That is a real good question. Will he be loose? Dr. Anderson doesn't believe that he will be loose. Now we won't know obviously until September because Peter won't be allowed to start skating until September 1 per Dr. Anderson's orders. But we truly believe that no, he won't have the same movement of the heel as he had on his right side, the right side was very, very unstable. Regarding the groin problem, we are hoping that won't occur."
Q: Can you walk us through the rehab process?
McCrossin: "Normally you want to restore full range of motion, which we have been working on. Then it's strengthening and proprioception work and proprioception work is going to be the toughest part. Proprioception work is going to be walking in the sand, running in the sand, it's going to be working with the wobble boards trying to get those muscles strengthened, as you would be on a skate blade. And finally, we will be putting him a skate blade up in the skate room and doing work off that until we get him on the ice."
Q: What is the timeline of getting Peter back?
McCrossin: "Obviously it's our hope and it's our goal to have him back by the start of the (regular) season. We will know more once he starts skating but we feel very confident that he will be back sometime around the start of the (regular) season for sure."
Q: How do you feel about this, Peter?
Forsberg: "Well I feel great. It's great news that I don't need to do it (have the second surgery). It hurt a lot on the right one so I am glad we don't need to do it. He (Dr. Anderson) said it was stable enough that I can go on and strengthen it up and I don't need to do it, so obviously, it's great news for me."
Q: Were you shocked by it?
Forsberg: "It's been the right one that's been the bad thing and if we could have avoided it that is what I wanted to do and that is what the team wanted to do. And with him (Dr. Anderson) saying that it should be fine, we are not 100 percent sure it is going to be fine, but I hope it's going to be fine. It's, great though."
Q: Have you been told that eventually you will need to get this done on your left foot?
Forsberg: "No, not really, it does not necessarily have to be like that. Hopefully we can straighten out the ligaments and there won't be any problems. The bone structure has kind of always been like that but just with time on the right one with the ligaments tearing down I think the right one has been going bad the last couple of years. But the left one, it's been ok so I hope I don't need to do anything. If I have any problems this year then maybe we have to do it earlier, maybe we can do it after the season, we will see what happens. If everything goes great I hope I don't need to do it."
Q: Before this was diagnosed you really didn't do a whole lot of strengthening with this ligament, is that right?
Forsberg: "Well we haven't done too much. Usually you don't have to. Like I said, I didn't know what it was before either. But we are going to start now and hopefully they will be strong enough. The ligaments are kind of intact on that foot, there shouldn't be any problems. I hope it is going to be fine."
Q: How do you feel about what you found out today from Dr. Anderson?
Forsberg: "I've got to say I am pretty happy about it. Doing the right one hurt a lot and being in a cast for so long and not being able to do anything it's been a hard couple of weeks and not having to do the second one is going to be great. And knowing that I might be back in the beginning of the season is going to be great too. Working out is so much easier now and getting back in shape and hopefully I will be back playing. I am really happy today about what was decided and I am excited to get the season going. "
Q: Are you confident that you will be at the level you played when we all saw you in Colorado?
Forsberg: "I certainly hope so and that is our goal. We are not 100 percent sure but we are pretty sure it's going to be ok. The right one has been the bad thing, it's been the one that always has been slipping and sliding and not being able to stay in the boot and we kind of think it's because of that, that the left one has been feeling bad too because the right one was so bad and I had no balance. With fixing up the right one we hope the left one is going to help out too and it's going to be feeling so much better on the ice. That is our goal and if it's not we are not ruling out getting the surgery later but we definitely think it's going to be ok and I will be playing at the level I want to be playing at."
Q: What do you think about the prospect of playing the beginning of the season?
Forsberg: "We will see if it is going to happen, if I can get back for the first game of the season. It's a long way and everything has to go perfectly until then but that is my goal and I have to work as hard as I possibly can. But if I miss 10 games instead of 30 or 40, it's definitely a good thing."
Q: It has to make you feel good just the possibility that you might be able to start at the beginning of the season.
Forsberg: "Yes, definitely. Knowing that you are going to miss half the year has been hard and now it feels great that I will be part of the team in the beginning of the year. It's been a hard summer after I made the decision that I had to do both (surgeries) and the long summer and miss half the year, getting back half into it, especially when I came here last year and signing only a two-year deal. I am definitely happy that I can be back in a couple of games in or in the beginning of the season."
Q: Did the doctors explain to you what changed between the initial diagnoses of needing surgery on your left foot?
Forsberg: "We kind of decided to say we were going to do both. But we knew we were going to make a decision when I saw him this time. Just kind of what he has been thinking and it's kind of his decision. It's not as bad as we first thought. We only decided that we don't need to do both."
Q: When did you meet with Dr. Anderson?
Forsberg: "We flew down to Charlotte today and we had a meeting with him today."
Q: So you are in Charlotte now?
Forsberg: "No, we just came back. We flew to Charlotte this morning. We met with Dr. Anderson around 11 a.m."
Q: Have you been given any restrictions or are there some things you need to watch for so you don't overextend him?
McCrossin: "I can beat him up as much as I want to (laughs). You have to remember with Peter he had two surgeries really with that foot. He had the surgery to realign the bone and he had the surgery to reconstruct his ligaments. What I have to be leery about right now is the integrity and repair of the ligaments, we don't want to stretch them out. Once you get skating they are going to stretch out to where they should be but for right now Dr. Anderson does not want me to push too much what they call inversion of the ankle and we just have to protect the integrity of every tear. And that is why we are not going to be skating until September."
Q: Do you have anything to go by to compare – I think you told us last time this is a first time surgery like this preformed on a hockey player – it that correct?
McCrossin: "It's the first one Dr. Anderson did. He has done many for different sports. As for hockey we really don't have a measuring stick, but it really comes down to basic anatomy. Dr. Anderson is a great guy to follow up with and speak with and just running by him any questions about rehab I may have by him."
Q: Talk about the rehab process a little bit.
McCrossin: "The rehab is going to consist of obviously getting the range of motion back in his ankle and strengthening. Then we will do the conditioning that we need to do to get the rest of his body ready for hockey."
Q: Are you still confident that this surgery will prolong your career without having the second surgery done?
Forsberg: "I definitely hope so. Like I said it's been a hard decision going back and forth whether to do the left one or not but with the doctor saying that the left one is not even close to how bad the right one was. If it's not ok we might do the left one in September, we might do it after next year, but hopefully I don't need to get it done. How bad the right one has always been I am so glad I got that thing done and with that one being done I hope I can go play my best and hopefully be playing at the level I want to be playing at a couple more years. I love to play hockey and that is what I want to do. It's been frustrating not being able to play my best. I just cross my fingers that I can get out there in September, it's going to feel great."
Q: Do you need to see Dr. Anderson before September?
Forsberg: "We might go down there one more time. We haven't really made any plans, we will see how the rehab goes and see how it feels. But I think we will go down there one more time before the season starts."
Q: Have you or Don (Baizley – Peter's agent) been able to talk to Bob (Clarke) about extending your contract?
Forsberg: "No we haven't. I like to see how the foot feels before I think we are going to do anything, but I am sure it will happen sometime but nothing has happened so far."
Statement From Bob Clarke
Q: What is your reaction to the news that Peter Forsberg will not be having a second ankle surgery?
Clarke: "What we've heard about the ankle that what was operated, and the ankle that wasn't, is a relief. I think it gives us a much better chance to plan on how the season is going to start. Obviously, it's exceptionally good news for the hockey team."
Q: Does this effect in any way the preparations for next season?
Clarke: "Not particularly. We still know what we're trying to do, and we're going to continue working in that direction. There are some things we're trying. We'll see what happens. Peter was always going to come back and play, we just didn't know when. Now we have a better idea when he'll be here, and it will be a lot quicker than what they originally said."