On Friday afternoon, Predators General Manager David Poile gave an update on the status of forward Steve Sullivan. Sullivan underwent back surgery on Thursday in Los Angeles and is expected to miss three months. The native of Timmins, Ont., originally had back surgery June 27 due to pain that forced him out of the lineup in February 2007. Sullivan has spent the majority of his off-season focusing on training and rehabbing his back and core muscles in Vancouver, B.C., with trainer Alex McKegney.
“The rehab was going well until the last week or so when, in his words, Steve would get to a point where he could not ‘break through the ceiling,’ ” Poile said. “He could not get through the last extension of his back without pain.”
Sullivan returned to the office of Dr. Robert Bray--a neurosurgeon in Los Angeles who had originally performed surgery on a defragmented disk two-and-a-half months ago--for further tests, and it was determined there was a defragmentation of the disk, requiring another operation.
“It is my understanding through talking to our doctor, Dr. David Moore, that the possibility of re-fragmentation of a disk like this is like five percent,” Poile said. “Where we are right now, after clearance from the doctors in L.A., he will return to Nashville next week. It will be three weeks before he is able to do anything. December 1 is probably a realistic time to hope to have Sully back, and if it is that date, he would miss approximately one-quarter of the season. If you told me that was all he was going to miss, and he would be available for the playoffs, I would take that deal right now.”
More than anything, Poile said Sullivan’s injury creates opportunity for other Predators to step up and contribute. He noted the significance of Martin Gelinas’ signing earlier this summer. A 19-year NHL veteran, Gelinas has proven in years past that he can contribute on a team’s first or second line. Because of the depth entering training camp, Poile will most likely wait to get a look at his current talent before making any personnel movements.
Acquired Feb. 16, 2004, Sullivan has tallied 157 points (62g-96a) in 150 games as a Predator, including 60 points (22g-38a) in just 57 games in 2006-07.