Flyers dealt huge blow as Sean Couturier out for season after back surgery

sean couturier
Dec 14, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (14) carries the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Flyers season was dealt another huge blow. Center Sean Couturier is out for the season following back surgery Friday morning.

The team said the successful procedure was performed at Pennsylvania Hospital by Dr. Jon Yoon.

Couturier, 29, has been sidelined since Dec. 18. He finishes the season with six goals and 11 assists in 29 games.

Couturier battled back issues early on

According to the Flyers, Couturier came into this season healthy but this back issue started to present itself in the fall.

“This wasn’t an issue that was bothering him coming into the year,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “He started having issues in the fall and tried to battle through. We tried to treat things non-surgically, couple epidurals to be exact, to try to resolve the issue that was there. You try to do your best to avoid back surgery if you can, but ultimately the doctor and Sean felt confident that the best way to resolve this going forward was to have this surgical intervention.”

Couturier has 460 points (180 goals, 280 assists) in 721 games since the Flyers drafted him No. 8 overall in 2011.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed veteran center Sean Couturier to an eight-year, $62 million extension back in August.

The contract carries an average annual value of $7.75 million. It goes into effect with the 2022-23 season and runs through the 2029-30 campaign.

Flyers difficult season

sean couturier
Mar 9, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (14) against the Buffalo Sabres during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

This has been a challenging season for the Flyers dealing with injuries and the in-season firing of head coach Alain Vigneault.

AV signed a five-year contract in April 2019, posting a 74-54-19 record as coach of the Flyers. He owns a 722-489-117 mark with 35 ties while serving for his career. So the move was somewhat surprising on the surface but apparently not so in the locker room.

“There’s no love lost between the Flyers players and Alain Vigneault,” Frank Seravalli said on the Rundown podcast. “I can tell you from talking with Flyers players, they feel like he’s arrogant, doesn’t communicate well, and doesn’t spend a lot of time communicating with players.”

The Flyers announced assistant Mike Yeo would take over as the team’s interim coach.

“I have a ton of respect for AV,” Yeo said after assuming responsibility. Fletcher noted that Yeo would get consideration for the job long term but the Flyers have continued to struggle under him as well.

Kevin Hayes is another prime example of why the Flyers haven’t been able to get out of their hole. He’s only played in 20 of the team’s 46 total games this season.

After undergoing a procedure on January 19 to drain fluid from his adductor region, he is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. He has three goals and six assists while notching 14 penalty minutes.

The eighth-year veteran has scored double-digit goals in each of his previous seven seasons. He has 130 goals and 180 assists in 525 career games.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report