Michael DeNicola

 

Remember Kris Versteeg? I sure do. I remember getting a tad excited when we traded for him prior to the deadline last season and thinking, "Hey, Richards has his linemate!" 

Few games pass and, "Okay okay, when's this guy gonna produce?"

By the final and Kris' 27th regular season game with the Flyers I was all about getting rid of this bum. I wasn't the only one. 

 

Versteeg landed in Philadelphia on Monday, 14-February, with a hulky $9.25M, 3-year contract after being traded away by Toronto for the Flyers' 2011 1st and 3rd round draft picks. Considering GM Paul Holmgren has a tradition of holding on to Draft picks as long as Madonna held on to sex partners, it was no surprise to the Orange & Black nation. 

What was surprising is that this 25 year old 2010 Stanley Cup winning forward with promise of grit and points potential only stacked 7 goals and 11 total points in the 1,620 minutes he dressed in a Flyers sweater. 

His stats in the Playoffs were nothing to write home about either, then again, if your name wasn't Danny Briere or James van Riemsdyk, well.....no one's stats were a shining beacon of major success. 

 

I believe we can all agree that this off-season Flyers management has not only pulled the rug out from under Broad Street fanatics, but the entire hockey planet as well. Leading up to and prior to the trading of Captain Mike Richards and Alternate Captain / Beach Boy Jeff Carter, Kris Versteeg's name was more or less the heaviest dropped when it came to trading fodder. 

But let's face it; 27 games is not a whole lot of time to prove your worth to one of the toughest, nastiest, and incredible fanbases associated with the sports world.

Especially when you're trying to do so while suffering a sports hernia. 

 

If I were to go grab a beer or two with a large group of some of the most ruthless Flyers rabble-rousers and I mentioned the 'K' word, chances are the feedback wouldn't be pleasant. But all the naysaying and negative reactions lead me back to the sports hernia.

Once our season came to a miserable end, the Flyers brass began putting reports out about a handful of our boys needing off-season surgery for injuries. Kris was one of these unfortunates. 

What began as groin pain in Versteeg led to a diagnosis of his inguinal canal being weakened.

No, the "inguinal canal" is not some man-made shipping route created through the middle of a land bridge. It is...

"a region in the lower abdomen, just above the groin. The canal is formed by the insertions of abdominal muscles and tendons, as well as several ligaments. Within the inguinal canal travels the spermatic cord (in males) or the round ligament (in females). This area of the abdomen is prone to weakening of the abdominal wall, allowing an outpouching, or hernia, to form.

 

Though Kris is a professional athlete whose physical shape is in its exceptional prowess, it is not a question of abdominal strength that creates this sports hernia. Instead, it is because the abdominal wall in this inguinal canal is too thin and once this outpouching occurs it cannot be seen simply by looking or feeling for it. The tear in the abdomen took place INSIDE the groin area. 

What was Kris experiencing during all of this?

Like I said, Versteeg was feeling groin pain. But that could mean a variety of things. Some of which involve pulsating pain in the testicles. 

Yea. 

Kris was skating around, playing hockey while it felt like he had a goddamn heart beating in his coin purse. 

 

To give you some personal background; I played varsity football in high school. I suffered what's called varicocele pain. I'll spare you the TMI details, but some of the worst pain I experienced came when lifting weights or doing large amounts of running. 

One particular occurence came when I was squatting 395 lbs in the weight room and all of a sudden it felt like I got mule kicked right in the Florida Panhandle. I nearly vomited and passed out all at once. What stopped me was the fear I'd drop the bar on myself as I crumbled to the floor like a sack of rocks. 

Pain in a man's furry chandeliers is no joke. And in Kris' case, I imagine it had a lot of negative influence on the way he played the game. 

 

I understand that Holmgren's got something up his sleeve, and it seems he's saving some cap space for a huge Free Agency move come July 1st. Kris could very well be bait used for a deal, and if the return on Versteeg is equal or better value then I'm all for trading him away. My mind hasn't been changed. 

Again, he's only had a small stay here in Philadelphia and not a very good one. 

However, what has changed is my appreciation for what he went through. There is no treatment for a sports hernia other than surgery. Whether Kris got his diagnosis before or after the season ended, it doesn't change the fact he still had it. 

The sports hernia significantly weakened his abdominal area. And if you did not know before, know now that our abdominal muscles are the only group of muscular compenents we humans use in every single physical activity we do daily. 

Whether it's taking a 5 mile jog, or getting off the couch and heading to the microwave to grab your nuked Hot Pocket. 

A sports hernia is worsened by activities such as:

  • running
  • cutting, and bending forward
  • sneezing
  • straining while defecating/urinating

Good Lord, if Kris at one point in time had bad allergies, went outside for a run, bent forward while running up hill, sneezed and shit his pants all at once with this affliction then he could have very well burst into flames. 

 

Even though Kris is not the most popular Philadelphia Flyer, I'm not going to hold his performance while being emplyed by our club over his head any longer. Every man, woman and child deserves a moment of redemption, and if Versteeg is once again wearing Orange & Black come October then I'll applaud his presense. 

It's a new season, new league year. I believe he'd be one hell of an asset on a Versteeg-Schenn-Simmonds 3rd line. But I'm not saying we shouldn't keep the short leash on the guy. 

Granted he's had a sports hernia, but he could - after all - just suck ass.