Recovering from surgery is far more than just completing a medical procedure. The hard work begins during the intense physical therapy in anticipation of returning to hockey. For Shayne Gostisbehere, a large part of his recovery is retaining his strength since his return in the 2019-2020 regular season. Egor Zamula is beginning that road with his teammates following back surgery. Both players spoke to us about their journey from surgery back to the rink in our latest check-in.
“I got to make some plays out there. Try to get back in that lineup per se. I think for myself, just going out there proving I’m a good player. Just getting my bearings out there and feeling okay.”Shayne Gostisbehere; 7/21/20
At the moment, Shayne Gostisbehere is on the outside looking in of the starting six defensemen. He’s two years removed from his best NHL season and hasn’t had the best of luck since. This season, he’s been injury-plagued. Gostisbehere had a solid return against the Boston Bruins, but again, luck was not on his side. As soon as Gostisbehere had an opportunity to get back into an NHL game, the NHL season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Not thinking is this movement going to hurt or is this going to hurt. Just having a clear mind and focusing straight on hockey. Making those plays, making those reads, and trusting myself. It’s definitely nice.”Shayne Gostisbehere; 7/21/20
In that Boston Bruins game when Shayne Gostisbehere returned, he looked as strong as ever. The knees have been bothering Gostisbehere for quite a while, clearly affecting his game. He skated in his return like a player who wasn’t limited in movement. Gostisbehere looked free of pain. As he cleared the physical hurdle, Gostisbehere’s next challenge is the mental hurdle.
“I just had surgery about two months ago. There’s something to prove there, showing that you’re ready and capable. I know they believe my skillsets there. It’s just if I am there mentally, physically, and ready to do. Every day, playing, scrimmaging and whatnot, I feel better and better.”Shayne Gostisbehere; 7/21/20
Shayne Gostisbehere has accepted the mental challenge of his post-surgery directly. Alain Vigneault has pressed to evolve Gostisbehere into his next form. The coaching staff believes in him. This training camp is vital to a player like Gostisbehere because he’s proving to himself that he is ready to go for the most important push. Jumping directly into meaningful hockey means that Gostisbehere cannot worry about his knees.
“The coaching staff and AV have done a really good job setting a good game plan to get us ready. I think this team is pretty dialed right now in that sense of conditioning. I think we are just going to hammer in the systems for the next week and get ready to go to the bubble.”Shayne Gostisbehere; 7/21/20
With a sense of clarity in mind, Shayne Gostisbehere is focused on the playoffs with the rest of his team. The importance of conditioning for the Philadelphia Flyers has been stressed with the “Stay Ready” mantra. That goes double for Gostisbehere, who couldn’t afford to regress on his recovery progress during the quarantine. Physically, Gostisbehere is ready to go. When the Flyers head to the Toronto bubble, he’ll have his mind prepared.
Youth can work wonders. Egor Zamula, twenty-years-old, had a quick rehabilitation from his back surgery. Zamula had surgery on a degenerative condition in his back but felt great when he was back in Russia. Now that he is with the Philadelphia Flyers, Zamula is keeping up with his teammates in training camp.
“It’s a great opportunity to be on the ice with the high-level players.”Egor Zamula; 7/21/20
Egor Zamula is being used as a young body to learn from his teammates while pressing them to be ready for the Stanley Cup playoffs. The cast that he has to learn from is brilliant, especially considering Matt Niskanen’s expertise. Similar to Shayne Gostisbehere, Zamula is mentally conditioning himself post-surgery. He’s able to skate, do full workouts, and lift weights. After his operation, Zamula is close to the best condition he can be.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports