For the first time, the Philadelphia Flyers revealed the nature of a devastating injury that may bring a premature end to the playing career of defenseman Ryan Ellis.
Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher told reporters on Thursday upon the opening of training camp that Ellis suffered a torn psoas muscle in 2021. The torn muscle, which runs from the lower spine through the hip, has caused significant hip and core issues for Ellis.
Officially, Fletcher said that Ellis is “out indefinitely,” unlikely to play this season, and acknowledged the possibility that Ellis may never play again. He has not played since Nov. 13, 2021.
Ellis, 31, skated in four games with the Flyers last season before sustaining the injury, which sources said is unrelated to any prior injury. With five points in those four games, he appeared to be exactly what the Flyers were seeking in a 2021 summer trade with Nashville. It’s been difficult to pick up the pieces since.
Ellis’ injury is devastating. So little is known about the psoas muscle and given its location, it is largely inaccessible to surgical repair. His hip and hip adductors are also ailing, according to Fletcher. It took a long time last season to properly identify and diagnose the injury. Ellis is believed to have undergone exploratory procedures in an attempt to find relief, as the torn psoas muscle has had a significant impact on his ability to live a normal life away from the rink.
Ellis has five years and nearly $30 million remaining on his contract, which was signed in Nashville. He was acquired by the Flyers on July 17, 2021 in exchange for Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick.
Fletcher also said Thursday it was “way premature” to speculate on the possibility that Sean Couturier may be lost for the season. As reported Tuesday, the Flyers are hoping the herniated disc plaguing their Selke Trophy-winning center will heal itself in six-to-eight weeks; If surgery is needed, Couturier will miss a significant chunk of the season. This is Couturier’s second major back injury in as many seasons.
The Flyers dramatically overhauled their medical and training staff over the past year. In August, the Flyers announced the hiring of Ian McKeown as vice president of athlete performance and wellness from Adelaide of the Australian Rules 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 rehab coordinator.
The news came as the Flyers retained former trainers Jim McCrossin and Sal Raffa, despite their ongoing lawsuit against the team. In April, McCrossin and Raffa alleged in court filings that they were routinely exposed to dangerous carcinogens that were emitted from the Zamboni area near the training room of the team’s New Jersey practice facility. McCrossin said he developed myelofibrosis, a rare and incurable blood cancer, while Raffa developed essential thrombocythemia, a blood disease with also no known cure. McCrossin has been retained as a senior adviser, while Raffa remains as assistant athletic trainer, according to the Flyers’ staff listing.