Devils forward Patrik Elias underwent surgery Tuesday in Philadelphia to clean up some scar tissue in his groin and will be out for three to six weeks, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said this morning (10:15 a.m).
That mean Elias will miss the team's regular season opener against Philadelphia on Oct. 3.
Dr.William Meyers, the a sports hernia specialist who performed the groin surgery on Elias four years ago, also performed this procedure, which was done arthroscopically.
"His groin had stll been bothering him, but his hip was feeling fine, so we decided to send him to see the doctor who originally did his groin surgery four years ago, Dr. Myers in Philadelphia," Lamoriello said. "After consultation with our doctors and Dr. Myers, what he did was he decided to look and see what was going on there after the MRI. It happens that he had a lot of scar tissue that had been built up in that area and he just broke up the scar tissue. Everything went extremely well and what we're using as a time frame is anywhere from three to six weeks. And when I say six weeks, [it's] being fully ready to play, depending upon where his conditioning is. But the doctor felt that he could be fairly aggressive right away because it was simplistically scar tissue."
Lamoriello said Elias is already walking and is to return to New Jersey today.
"All I know is everything went extemely well and he'll be getting right at it aggressively, immediately," Lamoriello said; "Then, it's a question of when he's in shape, when he's ready and how he feels."
Elias had surgery on June 12 in Vail, Colo. to repair a torn labrum, a tear in his adductor muscle and an impingement on his hip, but was still experiencing some discomfort in his groin, which dated back to last season. He had been skating on his own for more than three weeks, but wasn't able to practice with the team, so he went to see Dr. Myers in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Lamoriello insisted that it was "a totally different situation" from Elias' earlier surgery and the sports hernia surgrery Jamie Langenbrunner had two years ago. In fact, Lamoriello viewed Elias' surgery as a positive.
"We know exactly what it is and it's something that, quite frankly, is good news because his groin was bothering him for a couple of weeks." Lamoriello said. "In my opinion, it's good news."
Lamoriello said Elias' status will not change how the team approaches the start of the season in terms of personnel (making a trade, signing someone).
"We'll just see how things go," he said. "We'll just see how we look. We've got some excellent people here as far as young players, so we'll se how we look, how we go and how Jacques feels about things. Right now, these things happen."
So, it appears head coach Jacques Lemaire will have to work with what he has -- at least for now.
"We'll be looking for another center," Lemaire said. "He's an important part of this organization, but we have to expect that. I'm getting used to this, missing the top player."
Lemaire was referring to last season when he to play most of it without the injured Marian Gaborik, who had hip surgery.
If there is a positive to Elias' injury, it's that it will give the Devils' young players a chance to show what they can do.
"You're not in a better position, that's for sure," Lemaire said. "What's good is someone else in the organization will have a chance to play. That's the only thing that is good, that is positive."
This time will determine if the Devils have enough to get by without Elias until he returns or if they need to go outside the organization."
"We'll see," Lemaire said. "We'll see after the exhibition games and we'll see what the kids can do and then we'll talk after."
The lineup for tonight's preseason opener against the Rangers is the same as I posted Tuesday. Yann Danis will start in net and rookie Jeff Frazee will play the second half of the game.
Former Devils goaltender Kevin Weekes has signed on to be a commentator for Hockey Night in Canada and the NHL Network.