Philadelphia Flyers forwards Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson will continue to remain out of the lineup for the foreseeable future. Both players are key cogs of the offense, but the Flyers will need to continue the navigation around injuries that have become all too common.
Couturier not returning soon isn’t much of a surprise. He played in 29 games during 2021-2022 before undergoing back surgery in February, which ended his season. On September 19th, before the start of training camp, it was reported that Couturier suffered a herniated disc in his back and would miss several weeks to months.
Just a week before that announcement, on September 12th, Couturier met with the media at the Flyers’ training facility in Voorhees, NJ. He confirmed that he would be ready for the start of training camp:
“When I got back two weeks ago, I went to the doctors and everything seems good.”Sean Couturier; 9/12/2022
Couturier was ready to put last season behind him, but a new injury appeared shortly after, setting him back even further. He had been skating before the start of the season but is not any longer:
“He stopped skating. He’s just not ready to skate right now, that’s a ways away. Him, Cam, I’m not thinking about them as far as lineups in the near future.”John Tortorella; 10/27/2022
Couturier’s most recent injury does not require surgery like the one he had earlier in 2022. However, suffering two back injuries in one year brings a dark cloud over the future of the 29-year-old former Selke Trophy winner.
Atkinson was present for the start of ‘Camp Tortorella’. He had been part of six Tortorella training camps during his time in Columbus. During the summer, his teammates had been asking him about what to expect:
“Throughout the summer, a lot of guys have reached out. As we’ve been back for the last three weeks, a lot of guys have been asking more and more questions. Those anxious butterflies are creeping in, but that’s what you want. I know firsthand it’s going to be tough and I still get anxious about it.”Cam Atkinson; 9/13/2022
Since September 25th, Atkinson had been listed as “day-to-day” with an upper-body injury. He did not suit up for any preseason games.
Tortorella was anticipating Atkinson to be ready for the start of the regular season. On Thursday, he mentioned that things change, and Atkinson is frustrated:
“Things just changed. I’m not going to get into a long discussion about it. Things changed and it just went the other way. That’s one frustrated young man, right there. He wants to be a big part of this, he was one of the best players last year when he came here. It’s very frustrating, but his body just is not allowing him to get to the spot where he can start conditioning again and start getting ready to play. I’m hoping that could change as quickly as it went the wrong way, I’m hoping it can go as quickly the right way.”John Tortorella; 10/27/2022
Atkinson’s situation, in this sense, could appear familiar to the Ryan Ellis saga that occurred throughout 2021-2022. It went from “day-to-day” to “week-to-week” and then finished without Ellis playing another game.
On Tuesday, Tortorella mentioned he doesn’t see Atkinson’s situation developing how Ellis’s did:
“I just don’t see it going down that road. I don’t know what else to say on it. I’m gonna leave it up to him, the guy wants to play. I know him so well, he’s played through so many injuries with me. It’s legit that he just doesn’t feel comfortable. I know once that door cracks and says, ‘I feel ready to go’, I think he’s gonna jump right in.”John Tortorella; 10/25/2022
Injuries have run rampant through Philadelphia’s lineup during the past year, and they keep on coming. Tortorella’s Flyers must continue to overcome the hurdles that are being thrown at them and work with what they currently have.
(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)