There's a popular T-shirt in stores that says, "Give Blood. Play Hockey."
Simon Gagne is taking that advice quite literally.
Gagne skated yesterday for the first time since straining his groin at Olympic practice for Team Canada on Aug. 24. The 29-year-old left winger lightly rolled around the Flyers' practice facility for 25 minutes, and hopes to be there when the veterans start training camp practice on Sunday.
"It was the first step; just one easy practice by myself," said Gagne, who had hip surgery in May. "I was a little nervous when I went out there, but I was very happy the way things went."
Gagne yesterday said his recovery has been aided by platelet-rich plasma therapy, a procedure in which blood is drawn from one part of the body and injected into a damaged area. In Gagne's case, blood was taken from his arm, then processed and injected into areas around his groin.
"I think I'm the first [Flyer], but I'm not sure if anybody from around the league has had PRP before," Gagne said. "I know the doctors from Team Canada were talking about it."
PRP therapy has been around since the 1950s, but only recently has been developed to treat short-term injuries. Gagne's procedure was done by team doctor Peter DeLuca, at the Eagles' NovaCare facility. Eagles' long-snapper Jon Dorenbos (elbow) is among NFL players who have had it.
"I had it done about 10 days ago and they said it would be about 3 weeks before I was healed," Gagne said. "It's a huge difference than the way things were feeling."
The plan for Gagne is to continue to take things slooooowly. The departures of wingers Joffrey Lupul and Mike Knuble have the Flyers a little thin of returning forwards. Gagne is hoping to play in four or five of the team's seven preseason games, which begin a week from today in Detroit, which would be 23 days after he suffered the injury.
"The ultimate test is getting back on the ice and pushing yourself and see how you feel," coach John Stevens said. "He felt good today, but we'll accelerate his activity as we move through the week and see exactly where he's at. He said he's hopeful that he can be ready for the start of camp, but we'll make sure that he is ready before we acclimate him back into the group, for sure."
The Flyers added center Blair Betts and forward Adrian Foster to their training camp roster. They will give both a tryout when the veterans report to camp. Betts, 29, is a free agent who spent the last four seasons with the Rangers mostly as a fourth-liner.
"He's a really good role player," John Stevens said. "He's been a hard-working guy; blocks shots, takes faceoffs and kills penalties."
Betts was knocked out of last season's playoffs after breaking his orbital bone on a vicious hit by Washington's Donald Brashear. Betts still has to make the Flyers, but with Brashear now a Ranger, it is worth noting that the first Flyers-Rangers game is Saturday, Dec. 19 at the Wachovia Center.