There are two types of meniscus surgeries. One type that is the more common that has a quick healing timeline. The common recovery time on a meniscus surgery in this modern day is just three weeks. When Alex Kovalev had his meniscus surgery when he was a Canadiens player he was back in three weeks. Why would Kovalev need three weeks and Weber needs six months? Here’s your answer….
This is going to get intricate and you’ll have to bear with the explanation: the quick healing type of meniscus surgery is one where the doctor shaves down the tear to stop it from being painful. When a player has a tear one has to look for how deeply the tear has gone and when the tear is corrected the doctor says something to the effect “we removed 50 percent of your meniscus’ or ‘we removed 70 percent of your meniscus’. This type of surgery you do when you need this player back quickly. You do this type of meniscus surgery when you are not that invested in the player for the long term. You do this type of surgery as a quick term fix to get the athlete back on the ice for the important games in a playoff push, or you do not have an eight year contract with the player.
Why? Because you get the athlete back and you need the athlete back. But here is the downside to doing the surgery that takes the meniscus down closer to the bone and the doctor shaves it away to stop the pain to remove the tear: Each time that the athlete then has more of a meniscus problem, he loses more meniscus. If he lost his meniscus down to 50 percent in the first surgery and then 25 percent in the next surgery and then zero percent in the next surgery… eventually the athlete is Bobby Orr.
Think of meniscus as a car wheel’s rubber (this is how it was explained to me during my four knee surgeries of which three was for a meniscus tear) that protects the rim. Each time the tire rubber is removed more and more, you get to a point where the athlete loses his rubber safety and is now playing on the rim. If the knee patella is rubbing against the bone without the meniscus to be that tire rubber, then the athlete in the long term is, well to put it bluntly, screwed. He eventually can not play anymore. His career is cut short.
This brings us to the other type of meniscus surgery that is done for the long term health of an athlete. This is the surgery done with the long term future in mind completely and the short term taken out of the equation.
The meniscus surgery that takes six months to heal does not shave down the meniscus to lose approximately 50 percent of the meniscus and hurt the long term. The meniscus surgery that takes six months to heal actually sews together the meniscus therefore keeping all of the meniscus. The meniscus does not move back together on its own much like many other places on the body because not enough blood gets to the area for that type of re-connective tissue healing. However, if you sew the tear back together, the athlete keeps all of his meniscus.
This is a paradox to most people who will automatically assume that the longer recovery time means that the athlete is in bigger trouble. In fact, it is the opposite. The six month recovery surgery saves the meniscus completely and leaves the athlete having the ability to have a much longer career, not a shorter one. His meniscus after taking the six months to re-attach is now back to being in perfect shape.
The athlete in this case has a brand new tire to protect that rim which is in this case bone on bone rubbing against each other.
Why did the Habs just choose this method of operation?
The answer is obvious. The player wants a long career and sees that in the moment that he needs to put his goals there and not in this next season and one presumes the Habs are on the same page with that decision.
They want Shea Weber to play a long time. They are sacrificing a part of or all of 2018-2019 for that to happen.
This season was going to be one without the centers that they are planning on for the long term future anyway. This is simply another move in that direction that the plan is a long term build and not a short term fix.
The sacrifice here is this season which is likely going to be a difficult one anyway. The victory is Shea Weber has the best knee that he possibly can have in the long term.
It’s a short term loss for a long term gain. If this is not what Dr. Mulder says when he speaks with the media that will be a surprise.