The first person to admit that the 2014-15 season wasn’t his best is forward RJ Umberger. And the first person to admit that he’s looking forward to the start of training camp and the Flyers’ 2015-16 season than most is that same RJ Umberger.
But following surgery to repair his right hip and bilateral abdominal areas on Mar. 19 one thing is certain - he’s not the same player from this past season.
“It’s coming up on 11 weeks since my surgery and I couldn’t be happier with the progress I’m making and the strength I’m getting back.” said Umberger. “I basically totally rebuilt my core system. I’m strengthening my hip, my back and it’s been a good process.”
Umberger had been out of the lineup for the last 13 games of the season, but prior to that, he appeared in the first 67 games in his first year back with the Flyers posting nine goals and six assists for 15 points.
Next year brings in a new head coach, new system, and for Umberger, a fresh start with the advantage of having spent a majority of his time with the same teammates.
PhiladelphiaFlyers.com caught up with Umberger before he departs for his off-season home in Ohio to see how his rehab is shaping up…
Is this the best you've felt in a long time?
“Yeah, it’s been about the last year and a half. Last summer training was difficult but it’s been really difficult to play a lot of games. A lot of days practicing and games, just to make it through the practice was an achievement, let alone be effective on the ice, so this is very encouraging and very exciting to know how well I feel right now and to attack summer and get ready for the season.”
Go through the process of your rehab for us
“I still have another week or two still [before] I can do some impact jumping, but I’m pretty much cleared to do most of everything. From the start, the surgery - it wasn’t bad. I was on crutches for four weeks and really the first three or four days were the worst because I had the bilateral abdominal surgery with it and had a hard time moving on crutches, so there was a lot of pain. Once that subsided, recovery was great from then on. It was just a lot of rehab here and working with the trainers.”
How hard was it to not finish the season?
“It was hard. My mentality since I started playing hockey was to play through everything and I think that’s kind of what caught up to me in the end. It kind of backfired. It’s probably something I should have handled earlier, but I just wanted to play through it. But at the same time, you have to step back and look to see how it’s affecting you on the ice [and] if you’re able to help the team or not. I felt at that time I wasn’t. I was in too much pain so it was the right decision to move on with the surgery and right now I’m very happy that I did, especially being healthy and having a full summer to train.”
What is your workout like for the rest of the summer?
“My workout is going to be pretty routine. I’m allowed to do the normal working out that I would do. I think some of my movements will be just modified with how deep I can go down for the hip, but I’m excited to be able to work at these things feeling healthy and get the intensity level back up to be able to go through it full speed and prepare for training camp.”
How much are you looking forward to next year even more?
“A lot. Especially with the new coach. It’s a new, fresh start here for everybody. I think this group can be a playoff team and be a team that contends. I’m anxious to get this group back together and try to achieve our goals. We have a motivated group coming in here and it should be a lot of fun.”
How well do you know the new head coach?
“He comes in with a great reputation. Very intense; Hard working guy and I think that’s something that we can benefit from. I think he’s a fair coach and from what I’ve been told, he’s very well prepared, so I think those are all things that should be great for our group.”