Two crucial young pieces of the Philadelphia Flyers' long-term plans, center Nolan Patrick and left winger Oskar Lindblom, are both dealing with significant health issues. Lindblom, recently diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer), will not return to play this season. The status of Patrick, who was diagnosed last offseason with a genetics-related predisposition for Chronic Migraine Syndrome, is more nebulous.
In his "state of the team" midseason press conference on Tuesday, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher expressed cautious optimism as relates to both players.
Fletcher said of Patrick, "I do expect him to play this year. He skated again today. He's getting his heart rate up higher. I think he's feeling a bit better. It's hard to predict."
According to the general manager, Patrick has been ramping up his skating sessions, both in intensity of skating and duration. The player reports that he's making progress.
Patrick also works, with some regularity, in conjunction with Flyers' skills coach Angelo Ricci.
"Once we have certain information, if he's cleared for contact or anything like that, we obviously will let you guys know right away. I can just tell you from the on and off ice workouts he's doing, he is progressing. There certainly isn't any clear path as to which way this will go," Fletcher said.
There is still no set timetable for the 21-year-old forward to be cleared for contact in full-team practices or to play in a game -- which would likely entail a stint with the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms to get his legs and timing back before returning to play NHL games -- but things have been trending in the right direction. Video: Hear from Fletcher regarding Patrick and Lindblom
In Lindblom's case, the 23-year-old recently began treatments and things seem to be going well so far, but it's still far too early in the process for a resumption of playing hockey to enter the discussion.
Nevertheless, Fletcher still considers Lindblom to be very much part of the team's plans in the long term.
"I hope so, yeah. I pray to God for [him to play again], But, obviously, for him to return to play hockey, means he's in a great spot in this battle so we're just keeping our hopes up. I'm sure he's got a lot of things on his mind right now, but if he's playing hockey this time next year, that would be a great conclusion," Fletcher said.
"I wasn't at the rink when he came by but I know everybody was excited to see him. Certainly, at some point, we'll kind of leave it to Oskar and his camp [to discuss his situation in detail]. With this situation like this, when it's your personal health and a non-hockey thing, you always want to be a little bit careful what you say, but you know the treatments are going and I know he's got a great attitude. But it's probably pretty early in the process to have that type of update. At some point, certainly, depending on what Oskar's thoughts are, hopefully we can make that available."
Stay tuned to PhiladelphiaFlyers.com for more takeaways on a number of topics discussed at the press conference in Voorhees.