Infection sidelines Forsberg

DAVID W. UNKLE -- Special to SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 12:46 AM ET

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Add a bursa sac infection to the list of atypical medical history of Philadelphia Flyers centre Peter Forsberg.

As Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock assembled the conglomerate of Flyers and Philadelphia Phantoms on the ice for the first time since the NHL lockout, Forsberg was noticeably absent.

According to Hitchcock, the problem has hampered Forsberg "since he got off the plane (in the United States) in July."

Forsberg's durability has plagued him throughout most of his career.

"When you play as hard and as physical as him, you're going to get some injuries," said Flyers general manager Bob Clarke while announcing Forsberg's signing.

"Some of the things like a broken arm can happen to anybody. It happened to (Eric) Desjardins. But a ruptured spleen and stuff like that, that's just tough luck. We weren't really concerned about that."

The infected bursa sac was removed on Monday during a 15-minute procedure by Dr. Keith Wapner at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.

"I think it was really good that we bit the bullet now and got (the surgery) done, so we won't have to deal with this thing a month from now," said Hitchcock, who is anxious to pair up rookie phenom Jeff Carter and Team Canada star Simon Gagne with Forsberg.

The bursa sac serves as a fluid-filled cushion designed to reduce friction between the tendon and the bone or skin.

Located adjacent to the tendons of the body's major joints such as the ankle, knee, elbow, and shoulder, and hip, staphylococcal organisms are primarily responsible for the sac becoming infected.

"Usually when a guy gets an elbow injury and (the skin) opens, then you can pretty much go to the bank that he's going to have a bursa sac infection," said Hitchcock.

Retrocalcaneal (ankle) bursitis is commonly seen in young athletes and ice skaters (overuse injury), as well as individuals who wear poorly fitting shoes.

"In Peter's case, it was an ingrown hair," said Hitchcock. "I've never seen it on an ankle without a cut.

"The rehab for this is going to be very minimal because there was not any type of reconstruction done," said Jim McCrossin, the team's strength and conditioning coach.

"(The surgery) requires him to be in a walking boot, only because of the integrity of the wound. What we want to do is make sure that the incision heals up very nicely. We want to keep the foot from moving, that it remains stable and gives the skin a good chance to heal quickly, the way it should be."

Hitchcock stated that Forsberg will have the stitches removed next week when he is re-examined by Dr. Wapner.

As for an estimated return to the ice, Hitchcock stated that, "they told us that (Forsberg) doesn't come back until he can put the skates on and be pain-free."

Forsberg missed the majority of the 2003-04 season recovering from groin and hip injuries.

David W. Unkle is a freelance sportswriter and frequent contributor to SLAM! Sports. His work appears on several news outlets in North America. David can be contacted at topcatsports@canoemail.com.


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