Flyers lose Walker to hip surgery

Posted: October 20, 2010

The Flyers have outstanding depth on defense, but it got a little thinner Tuesday when they learned defenseman Matt Walker could be sidelined for 10 to 12 weeks.

Walker, acquired in the trade that sent Simon Gagne to Tampa Bay in July, will have surgery Wednesday on his right hip to repair a bony impingement and a torn labrum (cartilage), general manager Paul Holmgren said. The surgery will be performed by Thomas Byrd in Nashville.

The 30-year-old defenseman was injured while fighting the Devils' Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond in the preseason, a tussle in which Walker said he "got twisted up when I was flailing around in one of those ugly bouts."

"He s a tough kid. He tried everything to get through it without surgery," Holmgren said. "But the hip problem led to stomach problems, which were leading to back issues, so it was time" to have surgery.

Walker may not be ready to return until the Flyers start a road trip on Dec. 28 in Vancouver, although Holmgren said the recovery time "may change. It may not be that bad. Sometimes, [doctors] err on the side of caution, but we'll have a better idea after he has the surgery."

Walker, a 6-foot-3, 213-pounder, had not played any regular-season games, and he was the seventh or eighth defenseman on the Flyers' deep blue-line corps.

Meanwhile, goalie Michael Leighton continues to make progress as he recovers from Oct. 11 back surgery, Holmgren said.

Leighton is on a walking program and hopes to increase his activities after visiting a doctor later this week. The goalie underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk, and he was expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Leighton said his goal was to return in six weeks. If he does, he would be available to play Nov. 22 against visiting Montreal.

Sergei "Bob" Bobrovsky (2-1) and Brian Boucher (0-1-1) have handled the early-season goaltending chores in Leighton's absence. Bobrovsky has a 2.67 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. Boucher has a 2.50 GAA and an .898 save percentage.

Including empty-net goals, the Flyers entered Tuesday with a 2.80 goals-against average, placing them 17th in the 30-team NHL.

Breakaways

For now, Walker will not go on the long-term injured list, so his $1.7 million salary will count against the cap. . . . Blair Betts (plus-3), James van Riemsdyk (plus-2), Darroll Powe (plus-2), and Ville Leino (plus-1) are the only Flyers forwards with "plus" ratings. . . . The Flyers are just 2 for 22 (9.1 percent, tied for 24th in NHL) on the power play and have killed 27 of 31 (87.1 percent, 12th) penalties. . . . On Thursday, the Flyers will host Anaheim, whose lineup includes Bobby Ryan, the pride of Cherry Hill. The Ducks will be playing their second game in as many nights.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull.

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