Flyers center Peter Forsberg will be out of action until January, 2007 while recovering from surgery on both of his feet.
Below is the transcript of the conference call, as well as reaction from Flyers General Manager Bob Clarke.
Q: Was there anything different with the second opinion then the first opinion and if so what was it? Forsberg: "No, it was definitely not, they were both on the same page and they both thought the same thing. Unfortunately we are gong to have to do something about it if I am going to be playing at the level I want to be playing at. It was a tough day, I have to say that, but they both said the same thing and it was not one thing different. Unfortunately that's what happens."
Q: What have the doctors been telling you? Forsberg: "Basically my foot, I don't know the exact term but I think it's just supination, you lean outside on your foot. It's very uncommon, the doctor was telling me some basketball players have this. Plus I have a very hard arch and my foot is kind of leaning toward the other side and that tears through the ligaments all the time and through the years it has been getting worse and worse and the foot is getting kind of crooked, that is kind of what is going on. Actually both (feet) are doing the same thing. So if I am going keep on playing I am going to have to get it (surgery) done. The boot doesn't fit my foot, my foot doesn't stick in the skate and then I can't skate. If I get it done, straighten up the foot and repair the ligaments I think it's going to be fine."
Q: Are you going to have to get it done on both feet or just the one? Forsberg: "Both actually. The right one is much worse then the left one but we are going to have to do the left one too."
Q: Are the doctors in pretty much agreement on the rehabilitation and post-surgery time? Forsberg: "Yes they both are the best in the country and they are both kind of saying the same thing. As soon as my right foot is healed up we are going to do the left one and it might be four-to-six weeks before I can do that. You get the second one done and then start rehabbing. It's the same amount of time both for the same thing. Unfortunately it's going to be a while."
Q: Are you going to be okay for Training Camp? Forsberg: "No, they haven't told you how long I am gone? I think we are actually aiming for the first of January."
Q: This is when you will be ready to play, the first of January? Forsberg: "Yes."
Q: When do you plan on having the surgeries? Forsberg: "We want to get it done as soon as possible. We are just trying to set up a time, as soon as the doctor can clear his schedule, probably the beginning of next week and get it done as soon as possible."
Q: You said it was four-to-six weeks recover for each? Forsberg: "Four-to-six weeks is before I can walk on my right foot. And as soon as I can walk on my right foot we are doing the left one. And then I guess it's six months after that for one foot to heal."
Q: How difficult was this decision to make, how tough is it to basically have to give up half a season to get this done? Forsberg: "It's not a tough decision to make. It's a bad situation that I am going to have to get fixed. It's going to hurt and take a lot of rehab; I am disappointed I am going to miss (some of) the season. But on the other hand when I come back it is going to be so much better because it has been hindering me from my playing and I am just looking forward to getting back and coming back and playing good hockey. That's kind of how I feel."
Q: When did you first start feeling this pain? Forsberg: "It's not a pain thing it's just that my foot did not really stick in the skate and it's just getting worse and worse. I always had that problem when I was sitting on the outside and the ligaments just kept getting worse and worse. I don't know exactly when it happened; it's been going on and this year I kept on playing. In the long run it's just going to get even worse and we want to get it done and get it fixed. I can't tell you the exact date, sometimes I would find a good pair of skates and then played ok, but in the long run it is just going to get worse."
Q: Have you spoke to anyone from the Flyers about this yet; players, (Bob) Clarke or Ken Hitchcock? Forsberg: "I had a meeting with Mr. Clarke and Mr. Snider this morning. They are all aware of everything and they are saying just take care of it, get it done and try to get back as soon as I possibly can."
Q: Are you surprised at the amount of surgeries that this team is going through this summer? Have you ever been a part of anything like this? Forsberg: "No, not at all, this is just unbelievable. It's not small things either, it's big things and it's been a tough year for everybody. I never have been part of this many surgeries, this has got to be a record by far."
Q: I know the medical staff some times comes into question when things like that happen but can you kind of talk about Jim (McCrossin – Flyers Athletic Trainer/Strength & Conditioning Coach). Forsberg: "It's been a tough year for Jim, it's not his fault. Guys are separating shoulders, getting hit and Jim has been great, you can't say anything else. It's not his fault, it's just unbelievable that it all happened, concussions, surgeries, hips and shoulders and everything. I am sure it's a tough time for him. We have a great training staff, it has nothing to do with them. Sometimes these things happen, you know?"
Q: Will your past experiences prepare you to get back in January? Forsberg: "I know what it takes and I know what it is going to take this time too. To be honest, I am looking forward to coming back to start playing again and playing at the level I think I can play at because I don't think I was playing at my best last year. I think it has been getting worse and I am just so excited to come back. It's not going to be hard to motivate myself to come back and work out as hard as I possibly can and when I get back I will be in really good shape."
Q: Do you have any idea when you will have the first surgery? Forsberg: "The first surgery will be Monday (May 15) or Tuesday (May 16) hopefully."
Q: And then it's four-to-six weeks before you can walk again correct? Forsberg: "Four-to-six weeks before the bone is healed in the right foot and as soon as I can take a step on the right foot I am doing the left one."
Q: And then what happens when you do the left? You go another four-to-six weeks before you can walk again? Forsberg: "Yeah, I am going to have the cast on the left foot after that. My foot is crooked and you have to go in and crack the bones in my foot. Not only do you have to go in and tighten up the tendons but you have to go in and crack the bones, too."
Q: Did the doctors tell you that this is sort of like a deformity that you were born with like clubfeet or something like that? Forsberg: "Yeah I think it's basically called that, too. It's very uncommon. He has never done this on a hockey player before. It's very weird that I didn't know what it was, so many people have seen it before and it's frustrating. I am so glad that they sent me to the best doctors and I got to finally figure out what it was and come back and play at the good level again."
Q: Are you having the surgery in Carolina or in Texas? Forsberg: "They are both great and it didn't really matter, we are going down to Charlotte to do it with Dr. [Robert] Anderson down there."
Q: You mentioned before that you are optimistic that you will be 100 percent when you do come back. Does that sort of offset the disappointment? Is the message to [the fans] 'just be patient when I come back you will see me much better, a much better player'? Forsberg: "Yeah that's what I am hoping. I wish I could go back and prove it right now that when I come back I will be a better player. And I feel as bad as anybody that I have to get this done. I didn't want it to happen and with all the injuries before too, it's a tough situation. But on the other hand, like I said I know it's going to be good and I know I can be better then I was. I wish I was in January right now and I can say 'hey, it worked out and it feels much better and it is showing on the ice too.'"
Q: What did you learn today? Clarke: "We weren't caught by surprise. When Peter came back from the Olympics, Peter went to Carolina so we knew what the problem was and we knew that surgery was required and he was going to be out for quite a few months. When we met this morning, Peter and Jim McCrossin explained what was going on and Peter's has to get it done. It's not that he wants to or that he has an option. He has to get it done, so let's get it done."
Q: Was there an option of doing it during the season? Clarke: "No. It was so late in the season when we found out. If he is going to have a successful rest of his career, he has to get this done. He can't go this way or he is going to have this constant groin problem and back problems that this causes."
Q: With Primeau out and now Forsberg, what does this mean to you for this off season? Clarke: "Peter missed about 20-25 games this season so we can play along without him for the length of time it takes. We are going to have to. And we believe that we will have Primeau back. If Primeau doesn't come back then, there's going to be some big holes. We'll survive until Peter comes back and we'll be stronger if Primeau comes back. We are going to be awfully young anyway. That will just put some more heat some of our pretty good young players."
Q: Will you or do you need to know something on Keith before July 1? Clarke: "No. I don't think in Keith's case, that we are really going to know about his status until we go through training camp. That is the only true test. We believe that he his going to be all right."
Q: What have they exactly told you about Peter, in terms of how long he will be out? Clarke: "Roughly that he will be out until Christmas of the first of the New Year. It could be a little less or it could be a little more. But we have to operate out team under the assumption that it will be around Christmas time."
Q: Does your line-up stay the way it is, at least at the center position? Clarke: "Looking at it, we have Primeau, Handzus, Carter, Nedved, Umberger. We could switch Umberger if we needed to. If everybody is healthy at center we are pretty deep. Again, if we lose Primeau that will be a hole we found that we cannot replace. We couldn't do it this year and I don't know how we'd do it next year other than throw a young player in there I guess. That's only if we find out that Keith can't play. If he can't play, even though you have that cap money, you don't find that type of player. These are problems we are facing, but we don't know the outcome."
Q: Did you talk to Peter about a possible contract extension at all today when you met with him? Clarke: "No. We just talked about his feet. It was boring."
Q: Is it too early to be looking at signing your restricted guys? Clarke: "We have made no attempt yet. It's still a little early for that. We are still gathering all the facts and information on the guys. We will get going on Gagne and Kim Johnsson in a couple of weeks. We have to get all our stats first."
Q: Have you ever seen anything like this-injury wise? Clarke: "No, nothing."
Q: Any reason for all these injuries? Clarke: "It would only be guesses. I think we have to find out if this was just a bad year for us or if lots of other teams are having the same problems when their season ended. This new game is wonderful. It is wonderful to watch and it's played at a fast pace, but if you are hurt all the time then there has to be some looking at it. Maybe it was just a bad year for us and everything will be fine in the future. I don't know. I know we aren't the only team that has gone through this this season. There are other teams that have had lots of problems, but how many, I don't know."
Q: Are the other teams having problems with their hips? Clarke: "The league gets all of the injury reports, but we don't have them back yet. There is a supposedly a record number of goaltenders with labrum injuries on the hip but I don't know about other players."
Q: Is there any second-guessing about Jim McCrossin over training these guys? Clarke: "No, everything is fine. He is the best. For years we have been in the bottom five or six in the league for injuries. Lots of teams have had years like ours. This year we made up for all those other years. It was just one of those years. These injuries have nothing to do with conditioning or anything at all like that."
Q: Is there anything you've learned in the last couple of days? I know there's been a lot of meetings and reviews. Are there any answers you found in the last couple of days? Clarke: "Not really. We know that there has to be some changes heading into next year. We have to change our approach. Our style has to change somewhat. It sounds like an excuse and it is an excuse but I don't know of anybody that could survive with the amount of injuries we had this season. Legitimately are problems were caused because we had so many beat up athletes. Guys like Handzus, Kapanen and Rathje - they shouldn't have been playing. They were getting needles every day so they could play. You admire them because they are tough people, but you can't expect to be your best team when everybody is hurt. They actually did an unbelievably good job for us this year with all their injuries. These guys are tough men. It is something to be proud of what these guys did for us."