Flyers’ Wade Allison ready to stay in NHL after two injury-plagued seasons
With his arm fully inserted into a pregnant cow on his beef farm in Myrtle, Manitoba, Kent Allison taught his teenage son, Wade, a lesson in dirty work.
Or, maybe, Kent has tried to teach him a lesson. Wade was preoccupied, vomiting on his side as his father pushed a calf out of the cow’s birth canal. Young Allison called the process “rough,” but for Kent, that calf would become associated with gross earnings. Kent raised the calf and sold it to support his family.
READ MORE: Flyers bring back talented but oft-injured winger Wade Allison
Wade has spent intervals of this childbirth with his eyes fixed on the ground, but the image of birth and a core value are eternally etched in his psyche – not everything is pretty, but the dirty work must be done. And it is certainly useless to complain about it.
“If he didn’t, that’s $1,000 you don’t get,” Wade told The Inquirer. “That’s the grossest $1,000 I’ve ever seen win, but you know what? It’s business. That’s what you must do.
Allison, 24, did not follow her father’s boot prints around the family farm. However, he applies that same perspective to his injury-riddled career with the Flyers. In the past season alone, his second with the team, the right winger suffered a sprained ankle, elbow injury and MCL sprain.
These three unrelated injuries caused Allison to miss a maximum of 47 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, not counting how many games he could have played for the Flyers. These were not his first injury problems. He started the 2020-21 season on injured reserve after undergoing ankle surgery. He also suffered an ACL tear at Western Michigan University.
But entering Flyers training camp in top form and in sight of a spot on the opening roster, Allison refuses to shun the worst aspects of his job as a professional hockey player – injuries and the rehab process. .
“It’s just who I am,” Allison said. “[I] decided there was no point in complaining. Show up, do the work. That’s kind of how I was taught growing up. You don’t have to love everything you do. I have to do it anyway.
When Allison took to the ice to warm up before his first – and only – Flyers game of the 2021-22 season on Jan. 22 at Buffalo, he said he felt like he was reliving his NHL debut.
After all, it’s been 257 days since he last played an NHL game. A pair of injuries added to that gap. In the Flyers’ second rookie game against the New York Rangers last September, Allison sprained her ankle after falling awkwardly into the boards. In his third game with the Phantoms in December, Allison tore three ligaments in his left elbow when he went to control an opponent.
Four games after returning to the Phantoms in mid-January, Allison was recalled by the Flyers. Bliss turned to horror in the second period when Allison collided with Sabers goaltender Michael Houser and sprained his left MCL.
“I felt the pull,” Allison said. “And then I was skating towards the bench. I wasn’t really in too much pain, but I had no control over my knee. It was almost like… I almost can’t even explain it. It felt like it was spinning left and right at the same time. »
Nearly seven weeks after spraining his knee, Allison returned to the Phantoms for a home game against the Laval Rocket. On her first shift, an opponent stepped on Allison’s right hand. After the whistle for a stoppage in play, Allison noticed a tingling sensation on the back of his hand as he skated towards the bench. He removed his glove, revealing a blood-soaked hand that left a red trail in its path.
Allison rushed to the locker room, where medical staff stitched up a vein to stop the bleeding. There was no doubt in Allison’s mind that he would return to the game.
“I was like, ‘I’ve missed enough,'” Allison said. “I have to go back now. I tried to be polite with the doctors. I’m like, ‘Hey, I know what you’re doing. Could you speed up a bit? I have hockey to play.’ »
With his right hand totally numb for the rest of the game, Allison had two assists and scored the game-winning goal in the Phantoms’ 4-3 win over the Rocket. He finished the season with the Phantoms, scoring 10 goals and registering seven assists in 28 games.
The Flyers sent a simple message to Allison ahead of the offseason: stay healthy. Unless you cover yourself in bubble wrap — “I’ll try,” Allison said. “I will try anything.” – he has succeeded so far.
Allison’s gritty, all-out style of play isn’t going anywhere. But he is committed to refining his game, showing more control, as recommended by the development team. If Allison can stay healthy, he could bring a welcome shooting presence to a scoreless roster, especially with winger Joel Farabee (disc replacement surgery) likely to miss the start of the season.
“Injuries happen when you overstretch,” Allison said. “And it’s not done on purpose. I try as hard as possible. And you overreach yourself here, you get caught there, and then all of a sudden you’ve had enough for a while. So just to be more in control I guess. Still work so hard. Always work so hard. Just choose your places I guess a little better.
Allison’s scars from numerous surgeries and lacerations over the years are barely visible thanks to bands of colorful tattoos covering her body. A faint one-inch-long pink mark on the top of his right wrist from a skate blade is hidden at the base of a depiction of the Royal Liver Building, a historic structure in Liverpool, England, with a tower of the clock.
“Everyone has 24 hours a day,” Allison said. “Do what you have to do to stand out.”
Even less visible are the mental struggles that accompanied the physical struggles. After his college career, Allison found himself injured more frequently, which took a toll on his mental health.
He made it a priority to read and be aware of his thoughts. Allison takes about 15 minutes each day to slow down and meditate, being present by himself and for himself. It’s a ritual he’s been working on for a few years. He said he would work there for the rest of his life.
“[I] have certain rules that I like to keep in mind, correct my thoughts,” Allison said. “Select your thoughts the same way you choose your clothes every morning. You’re not the voice in your head. You’re the one listening. So it’s up to you to control what’s going on up there and to make sure that every day you put the right thoughts in your head, the right fuel in your body. It’s a 24 hour job.
Allison arrived in Voorhees in late August and settled into an Airbnb, happy with the mindset he brings to boot camp, which begins September 21. The 2021-22 season taught him resilience, as he rode through adversity and persisted.
He’s also happy with his fitness after a summer of training at Beyond the Next Level in Oakville, Ont. Coach Dan Ninkovich even placed a small photo of Flyers head coach John Tortorella on the table in front of Allison’s booth as extra motivation and a friendly joke. Eventually Tiny Tortorella migrated to the inside wall of the stall.
“I thought it was kind of funny,” Allison said. “I left it there for a few days. Makes you work a little harder.
READ MORE: Who will be the next Flyers captain? Here are the top contenders.
In May, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said it was “now or never” for a group of 24- and 25-year-olds, including Allison, who are looking to become full-time NHLers. Allison understands that he has a lot to prove at the front office.
“I just want to show him that I belong here,” Allison said. “I believe I can play in the NHL. really really. And go ahead and be me. Do what I have to do. Play hard, work hard and the rest will take care of itself.
With a season full of adversity behind him and training camp on the horizon, Allison is ready to do the dirty work in an effort to make the Flyers roster. It’s just who he is.