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There’s hope for Ryan Ellis in Philadelphia

The Flyers’ top blueliner was here for a good time and might be still available for a long time.

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Within the first seconds of Ryan Ellis’s media availability before departing for the off-season, he wanted to make one thing clear: He’s on the same page with Philadelphia Flyers management. Everything is currently cool.

Despite recent rumors swirling around this team that there was internal frustration from Ellis and his camp about being in Philadelphia, he appeared to stay positive about his future while also explaining just what has been going on the past few months.

“It is more or less a multi-layered problem. It wasn’t just a one thing fix-all,” Ellis said Saturday. “That was the problem, trying to figure out what was going on, so it had multiple levels for what the problem was. We have a plan and everybody’s comfortable and happy with the plan and I’m excited to be ready for training camp. It’s going to be a long summer, trying to get through it all, but I’m excited.”

Ellis went further on to explain that he will not be needing surgery to recover from his current injury. While the 31-year-old blueliner didn’t want to get into specifics about his issue, staying cautious about not getting any diagnosis wrong and it being reported as such, but he did mention that it was his “entire pelvic region.” He does have a plan to reach full recovery over the summer and get back on the ice.

“It’s treatments, it’s corrections, healthier tissue, healthier everything really. Then a lot of workouts and therapy in that sense,” he said.

“In the next month or so, I plan to start getting more and more active in the gym. Obviously skating’s my job, so I wouldn’t doubt a couple of weeks later, get on the ice, get moving again. I think it’s just a process that needs to unfold. Because I haven’t skated much, it would be nice to start skating immediately. But there’s all progressions in there. Ramp it up in July, August and then get going for camp.”

It has been a long time coming for Ellis. And honestly, any Flyers fan would be lying if they said they didn’t have a moment of frustration when it came to his absence from the ice.

The blueliner has an explainer for why it stretched out through his whole season and he laced up for just four games.

“Ultimately when the first couple of things didn’t work, it was, ‘Well, what is it then?’” Ellis said. “That’s where all the questions became I need to find out what’s going on. We’ve figured it out and now I’m excited to do it.

“I think that’s part of the whole reason it took forever. Not that it’s rare, but it hasn’t been really a problem before in a lot of people. I think that’s part of the reason it took so long to figure out what was going and then to make a plan on how to fix it. I haven’t spoken to anyone with the same sort of thing. I’ve spoken to a lot of people about a lot of different things with various injuries or things they’ve had, but no one’s ever said, ‘Oh, yeah, that happened to me, too.’ That’s part of the reason it has taken so long.”

This is certainly abnormal. While it is not always the case, we always tend to think of recovery as a straight-forward and linear progression — you target the one thing that’s wrong, and you slowly fix it. But with Ellis, it’s been a rollercoaster; from being just weeks away, to returning to the ice, to then knowing that your season is done.

There is hope and Ellis wants to be back more than anything, and especially for the Philadelphia Flyers.

“I obviously just want to play hockey again is the main thing,” Ellis said. “Get back on the ice, score a goal, shoot, block a shot, whatever it is. To be honest, it’s kind of sad, but I miss getting hit with a puck and it hurting, and coming off and being like, ‘I think I hurt my foot or I need an ice bag.’ Even like the scrums in front of the net, getting punched in the face. You don’t do that after doing it forever, it’s sad, but I miss it.

“This year was the most excited I’ve been for hockey — new team, new city, new fans, new building, you name it. Everything was new and exciting. Our team had unbelievable upside to it all. I think with the amount of injuries and whatnot, obviously it didn’t work out the way we wanted it to.

We all want the best for the defenseman and clearly, he does not want anyone for one second, to think that he does not want to play for the Flyers. To really hit it home, he just said it outright.

“I want to play here, I want to be a part of the solution here, I think I can really help out this team,” Ellis said. “My family loves it here, my kids love it here, we’ve found a great school. If I was playing, this would be Heaven for me. The only reason it’s not is because I’m not playing.”

It has been a tough Flyers season, that is obvious. But it is also obvious that it would have been much better if Ellis was on the blue line for more than four games. There was a noticeable different in the transition up the ice with him out there, and it was simply an out-of-body experience seeing a Flyers blueliner being able to be as mobile as he was in his brief 2021-22 cameo.

If, somehow, Ellis is able to play even somewhat close to a full season — all I’m asking for, is, like, 60 games — then the outlook of next season becomes much more positive. Getting a top-pairing defenseman for that amount of time, depending on the summer transactions, is only going to benefit scoring chances, goals, and hopefully wins. Watching one season of Keith Yandle do his best impression of what an NHL defenseman would look like if he had to use a pair of skis instead of skates, was enough for a lifetime.

Hearing an explanation straight from Ellis himself, and not just through a team-issued press release saying that he is recovering from his injury, is more than one could hope for. Ellis laid it all out. Everything was covered from his recovery, how unique his situation is, and how recent his actual diagnosis was. It was not a full season of just failing to fully heal the same injury — it was multiple attempts and trying to simply figure out what was going wrong and it took all the way until late in the regular season to understand the issue.

That should give Flyers fans piles of hope heading into the summer. This is something new for Ellis and they’re trying something different to bring him back on the ice. There is hope beyond the typical trashing a player because he gets injured often. This something different and if Ellis could be even half as good as he was in Nashville, then the Flyers will look like a brand new team that should be competing for a spot in the playoffs and not in the draft lottery.