Ford resumes skating 2/26
Captain Ben Holmstrom underwent knee surgery in December, which reconstructed his ACL and was expected to sideline him for up to four to six months. He has only recently resumed skating at the Flyers practice facility.
Winger Matt Ford, however, quietly underwent a minor knee surgery about three weeks ago. Doctors repaired his meniscus, and he spent the first few weeks of February in Philadelphia working his way back into game shape.
He began skating with the Phantoms when they practiced in Voorhees, N.J. last week, ahead of their game at Wells Fargo Center on Friday. His first full practice with the team came Tuesday at Glens Falls Recreation Center on Fire Road, and he could return this weekend.
It will be his first game since Jan. 26, when he took a knee from Albany defenseman Brandon Burlon, though Ford said he wasn't sure if that was what caused his injury. Ford tried to resume skating after the Phantoms returned from the all-star break, but immediately know something was a bit off.
"I don't want to talk about it too much, but it just wasn't right," Ford said after Tuesday's practice at Glens Falls Recreation Center. "It was pretty painful coming back and trying to skate. I just went and took care of it, and my leg feels better now than it did probably before I even took that hit in Albany."
Phantoms coach Terry Murray, who described the surgery as a clean-up, said Ford has been cleared by the doctor in Philadelphia — he wore a full-contact jersey at Tuesday's practice — and is "on track to get going here." The coach said he thinks Ford would be available for one or two of Adirondack's 3-1/3 games this weekend. They are scheduled to make up the game that was suspended Feb. 17 at Springfield as part of a doubleheader Friday, with the regularly-scheduled game to follow that night.
Ford, incidentally, was involved in a suspended game during his time with the Lake Erie Monsters. Look for that story later this week. He said he will also wait until later in the week to see how his knee feels after going through a couple full practices. Tuesday was his first true practice in a month.
"If it feels good, I want to play," Ford said. "We'll see as the week goes on here as we get closer to it. I just want to be out there and contributing to the team."
While Ford returned, three Phantoms were absent from practice.
Defenseman Andreas Lilja and assistant coach Kjell Samuelsson had scheduled days off. Rookie center Andrew Johnston, who had been demoted to the fourth line during Sunday's win over Binghamton, was sent to the ECHL's Trenton Titans to get some additional playing time.
"The opportunity to play in Trenton, play lots of minutes in key situations and be the go-to guy, per se, down there is going to be good for him," Murray said of Johnston. "It's just our opinion that's what he needed right now."
Less than 24 hours after acquiring Mitch Wahl from Calgary, the Philadelphia Flyers made another deal. They got former Flyer Simon Gagne back from the Los Angeles Kings, shipping a conditional fourth-round draft pick to the Stanley Cup champs. The Flyers are still within the 23-man roster limit with that deal, so there does not have to be an immediate move that would send a man to Adirondack.
Gagne joins a motley crew of former Phantoms and Flyers that have returned to the organization this season. Others include Scott Munroe, Danny Syvret, Jon Sim, David Laliberte, Brian Boucher, Mike Knuble and Ruslan Fedotenko.
Until next time,