Maybe a return is on the horizon for Sean Couturier after all. Having skated on his own for a few weeks now, he took the next step in his rehab process. He suited up, in a non-contact jersey, and stepped on the ice with teammates during the Flyers morning skating on Tuesday.
Both Couturier and the team will still be taking things. He will still need to be cleared for contact and take part in at least a few real practice. Then the talk can begin about potentially playing in a few games to end the season. That brings up the question of if the Flyers should even have Couturier play in meaningless games. There have been plenty of arguments for and against.
Count John Tortorella who is focused more on training camp and next season for a Couturier return.
"“For me, it’s not that important that he plays games. Big I’m not him either. He’s losing his mind. For his sanity and for him to feel part of it before he leaves here, I’ve got to take that into consideration if it comes to that,” Tortorella said on Tuesday morning.”I’d like to start fresh, but I also have to listen to the player and his feelings. If he gets cleared medically by our guy that he’s set to go, those are conversations Coots and I will have. I’m not sure it if happens this year. If it does with a few games left, we’re gonna have to talk about it and try to come to an agreement.”"
For Couturier, he definitely would like to play before the season comes to an end. Realistically, though, he understands that it’s going to take more than just a morning skate to gauge if that’s a possibility. He’s hopeful to get into a real practice by the end of the week.
He has been skating and shooting on his own, but nothing can replicate a practice with his teammates. And if the conversation of playing a few games becomes available, it seems as if Couturier may be pushing for that.
"“I’m pushing as hard as I can right now. I’m trying to get back this year and get some games in. It’s been a couple weeks where I’ve been ramping up…I know there’s only a month left in the season, but I’d definitely like to maybe get a couple games in.”"
There will be a lot of factors going into this decision. If Couturier is medically cleared to play before the season is up, the Flyers will have to determine the risks they’re willing to face with him potentially playing in games that won’t mean anything.
It’s been over two years since Couturier has played a game as he was shut down in December of 2021. So it may be imperative for Tortorella and the Flyers to see what they may have in Couturier heading into next year. He’s signed for the next eight years so it’s all but guaranteed that he is going to be a part of the near future.
Seeing where Couturier is all will only help the Flyers in knowing if they need to plan for more this summer. There’s going to be plenty of change already as the team finally enters a true rebuild.
Couturier did admit that a rebuild wasn’t something that he was signing up for a rebuild when he signed his last contract. He did agree it was what was best for the organization. And he’s happy to do his best to help lead the right way and get the Flyers back on track.
When healthy, Couturier is arguably the team’s best player. So getting him back on the ice and in games should only make this team better moving forward. We’ll see if that’s this year or next year.