With only eight games remaining in the Flyers season, it was going to be tough for Sean Couturier to get up to speed. He hasn’t played since December 2021 after multiple back surgeries. And while he has been working to get back, the team has made the decision to officially shut him down.
John Tortorella spoke on the team’s decision ahead of their matchup against the Buffalo Sabres. It was something the organization decided about 10-14 days ago. It was a conversation between Tortorella, Danny Briere, and the medical staff.
"“I think we handled it the right way. Coots is aggravated and I love it because I think that’s why he’s the player he is. So he’s gonna have to eat it for a little bit and I think it helps him get even more ready for a pretty strenuous camp coming up here when he starts again with us.”"
It’s important to note that there have been no setbacks as Couturier had been skating for a few weeks and has been joining the team in practice as of late. But it’ll be another few months before he takes the ice with them in a game.
As Tortorella mentioned, it’s a tough decision for Couturier to have to face as he has been pushing hard to return. The emotions of not playing are there right now, but Couturier understands that it is likely beneficial for him down the line.
"“I didn’t get too much of a say to be honest. I was just going out there and proving myself and pushing myself into practices and trying to get up to the speed. Felt really good. I guess it’s in my best interest. I might not agree with it now, but maybe in the future, in the long term, it’ll be a benefit. But only time will tell.”"
Ultimately it may be the best decision for the Flyers to make. The remaining games mean nothing to the team in terms of any kind of playoff push. Right now, it is about evaluation and determining who the team could build around moving forward. Tortorella has recently been watching the games in the press box with Briere, likely discussing just that.
Having been with the organization since 2011, Couturier has seen the ups and downs it has gone through. A lot of things have changed since he signed his eight-year extension as well. Couturier spoke on the team being in a rebuild back in March, after he took place in his first skate with the team.
"“I think it’s the right thing to do in the situation we’re at and the time that we’re at. With all the injuries that we’ve had, it’s kind of something that we have to do. I’ll do my best to be around and lead the right way and get this team back on track as quick as possible.”"
Things will likely look even more different when Couturier does play in a game for the Flyers next season. But it’s what is much needed moving forward. This team will need to continue to grow together and figure out how to get everything back on track. It’s going to take some time, but hopefully they will have Couturier to help be one of the leaders through it all.