Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, in a conference call Monday, told reporters that "the year from hell is over."
Actually, not quite.
Pronger, 36, expects to learn from a doctor on Tuesday if he needs surgery for a possible herniated disk in his back. That would be his fourth surgical procedure in about 10 months.
Pronger wasn't sure how he suffered the injury, but said that he started to feel pain in Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals against Buffalo. In the semifinals, he played in Game 1 against Boston but was laboring and was minus-3 in the game.
The pain, Pronger said, grew worse with each passing day. He missed the last three games of the Boston series.
Pronger, who has six years remaining on his contract, had minor knee surgery on July 27 and missed the beginning of the season; he also had foot and hand surgery during the season.
He said he was not worried that his latest injury was career-threatening.
Returning to the lineup from a broken right hand that required surgery, Pronger was used only on the power play, and he played just 4 minutes, 33 seconds against Buffalo in Game 6, a 5-4 Flyers overtime victory. He then played 17:27 as the Flyers won Game 7, 5-2.
"The amount of ice time I got had nothing to do with the injury," Pronger said about Game 7.
After playing 19:45 in Game 1 against Boston, Pronger never returned to the ice.
"It just gradually got worse and worse every day," he said.
Though he said he didn't want to use it as an excuse, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette reiterated Monday how much his team missed Pronger against the Bruins, especially since they had such a dominating, game-changing defenseman of their own, Zdeno Chara.
Pronger said his surgically repaired hand "is still at a stage where I need to continue to work on it and get it stronger. It was to the point where I could play, but I still don't have a lot of grip strength, still don't have a full range of motion and all the rest of that. It's still where it was. I just need to continue, once I figure out the next step for my other injury. I've got to continue to work on it and stay on top of it and rehab that; so [that] come summertime when I can begin my training program for the next season, there's no issues.
"The year from hell is over."
Pronger said he hoped "a good summer of training and rehab on the various issues that I've had this year will rectify all those, and I can come into camp next year in a lot better shape, a lot healthier, and able to hopefully play 82 games next year."
During the season, Pronger played in just 50 games, his lowest total since 2002-03 with St. Louis and third-lowest in his 17-year career.
Pronger said the team's poor play in the final six weeks of the regular season was telling.
"At some point, that inconsistency is going to catch up with you, which it did," he said.