- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Washington Capitals tried to take a cautious approach with Mike Green and his injured groin. He worked on strengthening it, but a tear in his stomach didn’t quite heal up.

So doctors and the team decided to change gears, with Green undergoing sports hernia surgery Tuesday afternoon in St. Louis. He’s expected to start skating again in two weeks and could be back in game action in four to six weeks.

“You never want to open anybody up to surgery if it’s not necessary, and so you always take the conservative approach. We did, and parts of it went real well, and one part didn’t go so well, so we need to repair the one area,” general manager George McPhee said. “It will now eliminate the unknown. Sometimes when you take the conservative approach, it takes a while, and you don’t really know when the player’s going to be ready. With this procedure, we know when the player should be ready.”

Green has played in just 10 of the Caps’ 43 games this season after an ankle injury in October and then this groin problem, which he suffered Nov. 11 in a collision with Ryan Carter of the New Jersey Devils. The All-Star defenseman returned Jan. 3 against the Calgary Flames but left the team’s Jan. 7 game at the San Jose Sharks early.

“I don’t know that he retore it or anything like that,” McPhee said. “It’s never really healed to the point where he can play with it effectively.”

McPhee said a tendon problem in Green’s groin healed fine, but a hole in his stomach did not close correctly. Dr. Michael Brunt is set to perform the operation, which includes inserting mesh to make the stomach lining stronger.

“It’s been done a lot the last 10 or 15 years, I guess,” McPhee said. “A lot of players are having it done when they have these issues. Some doctors have gotten really good at it. We think Dr. Brunt is the best.”

Caps assistant coach Dean Evason had the operation in 1998 while playing in Germany and reported playing a month later.

“It takes a bit of time to strengthen back up your abs,” he said. “But as far as coming back pain-free and stronger, a hundred percent.”

With Green out last season because of a concussion, the Caps went out and got defenseman Dennis Wideman at the trade deadline. The timing of four to six weeks for Green’s recovery seems to give Washington an opportunity to know what’s going on before the Feb. 27 deadline, but McPhee didn’t seem like a man eager to make a move.

“I don’t know how that would affect anything six weeks from now,” McPhee said. “We’ll just have to see.”

• Stephen Whyno can be reached at swhyno@washingtontimes.com.

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