For the first time, the Philadelphia Flyers have revealed the nature of the devastating injury that could lead to an early end to defender Ryan Ellis’ career.
Flight Director Chuck Fletcher told reporters Thursday at the opening of the training camp that Ellis suffered a lumbar muscle tear in 2021. The muscle tear, which runs from the bottom of the spine to the hip, caused major problems in the hip and core for Ellis.
Officially, Fletcher said Ellis is “out indefinitely” and is unlikely to play this season, and conceded the possibility that Ellis will never play again. He has not played since November 13, 2021.
Ellis, 31, skied in four games with the Flyers last season before suffering an injury, which sources said was unrelated to any previous injury. With five points in those four games, it seemed to be exactly what the Flyers were seeking in their 2021 summer deal with Nashville. It has been difficult to pick up the pieces ever since.
Ellis’ injury is devastating. Little is known about the psoas muscle and due to its location, it is largely inaccessible surgically. According to Fletcher, his hip and hip joints are ailing, too. It took a long time last season to properly identify and diagnose the injury. Ellis is believed to have undergone exploratory procedures in an effort to find relief, as a torn psoas muscle had a major impact on his ability to lead a normal life away from the rink.
Ellis has five years and nearly $30 million left on his contract, which was signed in Nashville. It was acquired by Flyers on July 17, 2021 in exchange for Philip Myers and Nolan Patrick.
Fletcher also said on Thursday that it was “too early” to speculate that Sean Couturier might lose this season. As reported Tuesday, Flyers hope the herniated disc that injured their Selke award-winning center will heal within six to eight weeks; If surgery is required, Couturier will miss a large part of the season. This is Couturier’s second major back injury in as many seasons.
Pilots have significantly overhauled their medical and training staff over the past year. In August, Flyers announced the appointment of Ian McKeon as Vice President of Sports Performance and Wellness for Adelaide of the Australian Football League. On Wednesday, they added Tommy Alva as head athletic trainer, formerly of the Florida Panthers, and Jeff Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers as physical therapist and rehabilitation coordinator.
The news came as the Flyers retained former coaches Jim McCrosen and Sal Rafa, despite an ongoing lawsuit against the team. In April, McCrossin and Rafa claimed in court filings that they were routinely exposed to dangerous carcinogens emitted from the Zamboni area near the training room at the team’s training facility in New Jersey. McCrossin said he developed myelofibrosis (fibrosis of the bone marrow), a rare and incurable blood cancer, while Rafa developed essential thrombocythemia, a blood disease with no known cure. McCrossin was retained as senior advisor, while Rafa remained as assistant athletic coach, according to the Flyers staff roster.