Flyers

Nolan Patrick excited to feel like himself again with pain of sports hernia behind him

VOORHEES, N.J. — Nolan Patrick said he would feel a "sharp, shooting pain" in his lower stomach.

Whenever he skated last season, that's what he endured.

Patrick is excited to lose such a feeling when it matters most: NHL training camp in September with the Flyers, charging for a roster spot.

"I think this will be the first time in a while I've been 100 percent healthy," Patrick said Friday at Flyers development camp.

He was never close to it last season in his all-important draft year.

"I was probably 60 percent when I first started playing and maybe got up to 70, 75 tops," Patrick said. "I never had any wind during games. I'd lose my energy really quick because I'd lose it trying to skate with that injury. Probably 75 tops, I'd say."

Patrick on Friday was not speaking from the dressing room in pads and some Flyers getup, along with the rest of the prospects. The 2017 No. 2 overall draft pick was in front of a microphone wearing a hooded sweatshirt and backwards hat. Patrick is not partaking in the on-ice portion of development camp as he recovers from a June 13 surgery to repair a pestering sports hernia injury, the one that caused all that pain during his 2016-17 junior season.

After meeting with the Flyers and the renowned Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia prior to the June 23-24 entry draft, Patrick realized what had been so bothersome. It was a similar sports hernia injury he had addressed surgically last summer, except this was on the opposite side of his core. Once he was recommended surgery, he wanted it done as soon as possible. It happened 10 days before his name was called on draft night by the Flyers, who were aware of all the details.

"When the doctor said it needed to be done, I told him right there, 'OK, when can you do it?'" Patrick said. "He said, 'Go home for a couple days and come back.' I think I went home on a Friday and came back on a Monday and had it done Tuesday. I feel great. I'm really happy I got it done."

The 18-year-old center sounded refreshed. Having the surgery prior to the draft has allowed him to expedite his recovery in the sense of fewer missed days for training and preparation this summer. He said he's expected to skate next week. On June 30, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Patrick was two to four weeks away from resuming full activities.

Hextall is pleased with the progress, as well as having Patrick at Flyers Skate Zone to not only rehab with director of sports medicine Jim McCrossin, but also soak in development camp.

"He's committed himself to staying down here, which I think is terrific," Hextall said. "Obviously the doctors here, Jimmy McCrossin's got a lot of experience in terms of rehabbing, so I'm happy he's in good hands and under our umbrella.

"He's going to learn. It's his first exposure to the NHL. It's good for him to watch and be around and talk to some of the guys who have been to a couple of the development camps and observe the development, the coaches with the video and stuff. He'll learn a lot."

Patrick is glad to have the issue finally under wraps, especially after a full season of sharp and shooting pain. He's also confident the injury won't recur.

"Jimmy McCrossin's the main guy I've been working with," he said. "He said he's [never] seen a guy ever have it again after Dr. Meyers had worked on it, so that's a positive.

"I think it's an injury that gets fixed. It's not like it's a four-week recovery and it bugs you for a while. It's pretty much four weeks and you're ready to go. I'm really excited to be back on the ice."

Patrick still managed to produce 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 33 games for the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings. With last season being his draft year, he refused to shut himself down, for a couple of reasons.

"I tried to play as much as I could and I just wanted to wait to see one of the best doctors — because I saw a couple doctors in Winnipeg and they said Meyers was the top guy in that area," Patrick said. "I waited to see him and apparently being in good shape heading into surgery, you heal quicker, so I just tried training as much as I can. I knew something was bugging me so I just waited to see him and got it done after that."

From the draft process to now, Hextall said the Flyers have gained a better grasp and appreciation of Patrick's toughness.

Through all of the hurdles, Patrick inadvertently learned a few things about himself, too.

"That I can play decent hurt, I guess," he said. "I don't know — probably just how to stay positive through things. It's never fun watching.

"I think every player wants to be out there and doesn't want to watch, but I think I've learned to be pretty patient missing 35 games this year. I guess I've got that down pat."