Andrej Meszaros thought he had a problem with his sneaker.
Then he took a step.
“I was doing my regular summer workout,” he said. “It was near the end and I was doing some jumping drills – plyometric stuff – and I heard something snap. I thought it was my shoe. So, I looked at it and saw that it was O.K.
“I thought, ‘Hmm, that was strange,’ and then I started walking. After a few steps it started to feel real weird. Then the pain hit me and I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s my leg.’ I almost threw up. I was sick right away. All that happened in a span of two minutes.”
And what took two minutes to come undone is going to take months to put back together.
Meszaros, 26, ruptured his right Achilles’ tendon. The Flyers flew him back from his home in Slovakia and had him undergo surgery to repair the injury last week.
General Manager Paul Holmgren announced that Meszaros would be sidelined indefinitely.
With an injury this severe, Meszaros doesn’t know how long he’ll be unable to play hockey. There have been comparisons to other professional athletes who have suffered similar injuries.
In Philadelphia, everyone became familiar with rehabilitating an Achilles’ injury within the past year as Philadelphia Phillies star Ryan Howard took nine months to get back into the Phillies lineup. If it were to take Meszaros that long, he wouldn’t be back until the playoffs.
However this injury is different for a hockey player than a baseball player, and in hockey, a player possibly could be back sooner.
Former Flyer Justin Williams tore his Achilles in training camp when he was with Carolina and returned in just three months without further issues.
However, New Jersey forward Travis Zajac tried coming back that quickly last year and ran into a set back and had to miss more time.
“The doctors told me that it’s tough to say because it depends on the treatment and how the body reacts,” Meszaros said. “I go see the doctor again on Aug. 20. He’ll give me a better idea then and maybe I can start doing treatment and rehab.”
Despite there being so much unknown, Meszaros is remaining optimistic. He knows he has a long road to recovery ahead of him, but at the same time is confident that it won’t be as long as a lot of people might think.
“I believe I’m going to play this year,” he said. “I don’t know how many games it will be, but I will play. I will play as many games as I can.”
In the meantime, the Flyers could be on the hunt for a replacement for Meszaros and have been kicking tires on remaining free agents and possible trade options.
However, as is Holmgren’s consistent modus operandi, he won’t make a move out of panic and instead will only do what’s best for the betterment of the team.
Meanwhile, Meszaros will be doing his own thing. And he knows rehab is going to be a somewhat lonely process – as he won’t have as much time to interact with his teammates on a daily basis.
But he’s confident that he’ll still be able to have a presence around the other players, both in and out of the locker room.
“When I played in Ottawa I was fortunate and didn’t miss a game in three seasons,” Meszaros said. “Then I had shoulder surgery in Tampa and now this. It’s tough but injuries are part of hockey. Mentally it’s hard but I’m trying to focus.
“It’s tough every time you have an injury. You go to the rink early or stay late and you feel a little left behind because you are by yourself. But I’m going to try to hang out with the other players as much as I can. We’ll see how it goes.”
If there’s a positive to come out of all of this for Meszaros, it’s that his back is feeling better.
Meszaros missed the last 20 games of the season and the first 10 playoff games after needing a procedure on his lower back.
He returned for the final playoff game against the Devils but didn’t look like himself.
“To be honest, my back is feeling pretty good now.,” he said. “I don’t feel anything uncomfortable in there. I was already working out. I had a couple moments where it was a little tight, but nothing real serious, so it’s doing really good."