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Marc-Andre Bourdon injury: Flyers defenseman cleared to return

The Flyers defenseman, who has struggled with a concussion for the better part of the last two seasons, has been cleared to resume playing hockey. He'll be sent to the Phantoms this week.

Bruce Bennett

Flyers defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon has had a long couple of years. Made his way onto the 2011-12 roster thanks to a series of injuries to the team's blue line, played in 46 games for the Flyers that season, hid a concussion from the Flyers that year to make sure he stayed in the lineup and kept his spot on the team, ended up missing most of last season with more concussion problems ... all the way up through this past summer, when he said that he was still hoping to return to hockey this year despite his prolonged issues.

Even with his optimism, it seemed like it may be a long time (if ever) until we saw Bourdon playing again. When a guy has concussion problems for that long, it takes a while to really make sure he's good to go.

However, it appears his recovery has reached the point where that time has come. From the Flyers, earlier today:

Following practice today, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren gave the following statement with regards to injured defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon.

"Marc-Andre has continued his rehab the past couple of months and has improved to the point where we anticipate him being loaned to the Phantoms this week and getting back on the road to playing professional hockey games."

Bourdon's recovery is great news for him, and while one can't help but be a bit nervous, the fact that the team let him play with a concussion once already leads one to hope that they've done their due diligence this time around in making sure that he's good to go this time around. (Granted, though, you never quite be sure with this team...)

As Holmgren says, Bourdon will likely be sent to the Phantoms for a conditioning stint this week. Per Article 13.8 of the CBA, that stint can last for up to 14 days. When that runs out, things might get interesting for the Flyers. Bourdon is on a one-way contract (which expires this summer), so if the Flyers don't want to keep him on the roster, they'll have to put him on waivers and hope he clears so he can stay in Adirondack.

Will the Flyers actually keep him on the roster? At least at this point in time, it seems hard to think that they will. They already have six defensemen that they've stuck with for a while now, and they've got Erik Gustafsson sitting in the press box in a less-than-ideal situation because he can't crack the lineup. I can't imagine that they would want Bourdon, still trying to get back in the groove of things, joining him there eating press box popcorn. The Flyers may have to take a risk and hope he clears waivers, allowing him to keep getting minutes on the blue line in Adirondack.

EDIT: Per Anthony SanFilippo of Flyers Inside Out, Bourdon already cleared waivers last September and does not need to again now:

Bourdon is on a one-way contract, but doesn't have to clear waivers now because of the special circumstances surrounding his recovery from his injury. The Flyers were able to use those special circumstances because they put him on waivers back in September when he was still hurt and he went unclaimed.

Therefore, given the aforementioned logjam on D, you'd have to think the Flyers will keep him in Adirondack until he's really back up to speed and there's an opening for him.

Whatever happens, it's great to see that Bourdon has recovered to the point that he's been cleared to return to the game.