Concussion likely to shelve Flyers' Nick Grossmann for rest of season

Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday's game against the Rangers and will not return. (Frank Franklin II/AP)
Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday's game against the Rangers and will not return. (Frank Franklin II/AP)
Posted: April 12, 2013

Nick Grossmann, arguably the Flyers' top defenseman, probably will miss the remainder of the regular season because of concussion issues, general manager Paul Holmgren said after Wednesday's optional practice in Voorhees.

Earlier in the day, Holmgren was hopeful that Grossmann might return Saturday in Buffalo. But that changed after Grossmann visited a specialist in Pittsburgh and the GM received a report.

"He has vestibular issues," Holmgren said, which means that Grossmann is having problems with his balance.

Grossmann was injured in a collision with a teammate at a March 22 practice. He has missed nine games, during which the Flyers have gone 4-3-2.

Holmgren said forward Danny Briere, who suffered a concussion during a March 23 practice and has also missed the last nine games, may return to the lineup Thursday against visiting Ottawa, which has lost five straight.

The Flyers have scored one goal in each of their last two games, 4-1 losses to Winnipeg and the Islanders. They are seven points out of a playoff spot with nine games left.

"You can let a feeling of dread creep in, but it's up to the guys in the room to stay positive," winger Mike Knuble said. "Come in, as hard as it is, you play every day like it's an important day. They all are. We're still playing games that will try to get us in. That's the way you've got to look at it."

The Flyers are 17-19-3 and have never been over .500 this year.

"We're not happy with the position we're in right now, but I believe every single guy in the dressing room has the belief that we can make the playoffs," winger Wayne Simmonds said.

Was Bryz dozing?

Coach Peter Laviolette denied a report on the Flyers' flagship radio station that he benched goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in Tuesday's critical game because he fell asleep during a team meeting on Monday.

"That's completely incorrect," Laviolette said.

The Fanatic, WPEN-FM (97.5), reported the reason for the benching Wednesday. After 22 straight starts, Bryzgalov did not play in the Flyers' 4-1 loss to the host New York Islanders. Steve Mason was the starter.

Harry Mayes of the Fanatic said he stood by his report and that he received his information from "someone close to the organization."

"No one fell asleep when I was at the meeting," forward Ruslan Fedotenko said. "Our meetings are short. That's just a bad rumor."

Defenseman Kimmo Timonen, Simmonds, and Knuble said Bryzgalov was awake.

"You're sitting in a bright room in the middle of the day," Knuble said. "It's not like you're locked into a film session for 45 minutes. Then I might see it. But not for half-a-cup-of-coffee meeting. Not even that."

Bryzgalov, who was expected to start Thursday, left the Voorhees practice facility without talking with reporters.

Breakaways

Zac Rinaldo (ankle), who was using crutches Wednesday, might return late in the regular season, Holmgren said. ... Scott Laughton, who played five games with the Flyers at the start of the season and then starred in the OHL, will report to the Phantoms on Thursday. ... Holmgren does not expect wholesale moves in the offseason. "I'm sure there will be some changes, but I don't look at it like, 'Holy mackerel, we've got to blow this up and start all over again,' " he said.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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