Each day leading up to Sept. 14, the official start of Flyers training camp, we'll dissect the biggest storylines facing the team ahead of the 2018-19 season.
VOORHEES, N.J. - Offseason? What offseason?
What is typically the first question posed to players returning from their summer hiatus, Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth had a much different experience that felt a lot like the rigors of the regular season.
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Report, rehab, recover, rinse and repeat.
Elliott described the summer months as more of a Groundhog Day situation, constantly reliving the same daily process. The Flyers' 33-year-old goalie endured an offseason unlike any other dating back to his rookie season with the Senators in 2008.
"First time I've actually stayed in the city I've been playing," Elliott said this week. "A little different, but we definitely made the most of it and tried to experience summer in Philly even though it's hot and sticky. We got out to the ocean and saw what the shore is like. It's like the city's culture of migrating to the water in summertime, so it's pretty cool."
However, Elliott and Neuvirth both found themselves flocking more to the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. From an organization that has strict dietary restrictions, including the elimination of pepperoni pizza, the Flyers also limited Elliott and Neuvirth in their off-ice activities.
Even playing a round of golf was banned to restrict the twisting and turning placed on the hips and core muscle area typically required of a golf swing.
"I've been doing whatever I've been told to do," Neuvirth said. "I've even been doing yoga twice a week for the last couple of months."
Neuvirth, who has been plagued by injuries over the past two seasons, intended to spend a portion of his summer in Western Canada working with Adam Francilia at Alpha Hockey Inc. in an effort to revamp his offseason training. Neuvirth believed he needed a different approach and Francilia and his staff had proven success in the past working with NHL goaltenders Devan Dubnyk, Thomas Greiss and Eddie Lack.
However, the Flyers felt they needed to closely monitor the weekly progress of their top two netminders, and after the most recent injury to the team's No. 1 center Sean Couturier, who tweaked his knee during a charity event, it's hard to dispute their line of reasoning.
"Doctors and the staff from the Flyers decided it would be better for me to stay here so they have that control, so we decided to be here," Neuvirth said. "I feel good. I had to have my hips done - both of them. So just staying here after the season doing the rehab for a month and the Flyers let me go home. Since then, I've been here for two and a half months every day."
Neuvirth returned to his native Czech Republic for three weeks, while Elliott spent a few weeks outside Toronto and another brief weekend in Madison, Wisconsin.
Now they're here to stay, at least for this season, as both Flyers goalies - unrestricted free agents come next summer - are playing for their next contract. While they're both aware of their uncertain futures, it also seems to be the furthest thing from their minds.
For Elliott, who had his hip cleaned up this summer, there's more of a feeling of unfinished business after he was rushed back to the ice at the end of last season, fighting through the pain of scar tissue and the byproduct of core muscle surgery.
Now, four and a half months later, Elliott is still taking a deliberate approach and while he hasn't been "totally cleared" to start practicing, he expects to be good to go once training camp begins.
"I'm really excited on getting back to form like I was in the middle of the season," Elliott said. "I think now going through some of the ups and downs that we did last season, everybody has that confidence in themselves. Just looking at our team, knowing what we went through last year, you've got to bring it every night. I think now we realize that."