Flyers center has surgery for broken jaw

Updated: February 14, 2004, 1:05 AM ET
Associated Press

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers center Jeremy Roenick could miss the rest of the regular season after breaking his jaw in a victory over the New York Rangers.

Fri., Feb. 13
I called Zack Hill, the Flyers PR guy who accompanied J.R. to the hospital last night, this morning. He and J.R. happened to be watching highlights of the game on the SportsCenter replay. Zack handed the phone to J.R. -- and it was obvious that his jaw was wired but his humor was still in tact.

I was a little confused as to how J.R., because he's got such quick reflexes, couldn't get out of the way of Boris Mironov's shot. So I asked him: "Did it hit anything?" And he paused, and said: "Yeah ... my jaw." He said the puck was rolling when Mironov took the slap shot, so the shot was fluttering and difficult to pick up. If the puck was flat, the shot wouldn't have been that high. Because it was, it caught him off guard.

Because everyone was heading back to Philadelphia on Friday for the second game of the Flyers' home-and-home with the Rangers on ABC on Saturday (3 p.m. ET), we were supposed to go out to dinner tonight. He said we'll have to take a rain check, but "I'll take you out for some soup soon."
The All-Star had surgery at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York on Friday, a day after he was hit in the face with a puck, leaving him bloodied on the ice and briefly unconscious.

"He will miss significant time," coach Ken Hitchcock said after Friday's practice. "I don't think anyone knows the exact time. It'll certainly be a lot longer than 2-3 weeks. We'll see how he feels in the next week or so."

Roenick, Philadelphia's second-leading scorer, was hurt early in the third period Thursday night when a puck struck him on a shot by the Rangers' Boris Mironov.

"His jaw was broken pretty significantly and his laceration is pretty significant," Hitchcock said.

The Flyers, who are tied with Colorado for most points in the NHL, also lost All-Star center Keith Primeau less than a minute after Roenick was hurt.

Primeau was injured after a collision with the Rangers' Bobby Holik. But Hitchcock said Primeau felt better Friday and could return for Saturday's home game against the Rangers.

The injuries left Philadelphia with only Michal Handzus, Claude Lapointe and rookie Patrick Sharp at center. The Flyers traded center Mike Comrie to Phoenix in a deal for goaltender Sean Burke earlier in the week. Boyd Kane was recalled from the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms to take Roenick's roster spot.

Roenick collapsed in a pool of blood after the puck hit the left side of his face, and was motionless for several minutes. Dr. Andrew Feldman, the Rangers' physician, said Roenick was unconscious for three or four minutes.

As he left the ice, Roenick waved to fans at Madison Square Garden, who gave him a standing ovation. He later did an interview from the hospital and spoke on the phone to teammates.

"He had the presence of my mind to wave his hand," forward Tony Amonte marveled. "He's definitely a tough guy and he's a character."

Roenick missed 3 weeks with a broken jaw in 1999 when he was a member of the Phoenix Coyotes. Roenick also was hit in the face during practice last month on a shot by Mark Recchi.

Roenick has 45 points on 18 goals and 27 assists. Primeau has six goals and 15 assists for 21 points.

The Flyers have been hurt by injuries throughout the season. Eric Desjardins, the team's top defenseman, has been out with a broken arm since last month. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg broke his leg the same week Desjardins was injured.

Goaltender Robert Esche has been sidelined with a knee injury, and goalie Jeff Hackett retired on Monday because of vertigo.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press