The rumors were so thick that they became a reality. The quiet chatter that made its way through the fanbase, media, and even through sports-talk radio, as fact was that Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry has a degenerative or chronic hip condition which led to his struggles last season and the domino effect of preceding injuries.
Sources refute that account.
A team source confirmed to Pittsburgh Hockey Now what we heard at several points last season: Jarry does not have a degenerative hip issue. Nor is there a chronic hip problem.
Instead, Jarry tweaked his back. It flared up a few times last season, which was the primary cause of injury absences.
On July 1, Jarry, 28, signed a new five-year deal with the Penguins that carries a $5.375 million AAV. He spent approximately four hours on the open market before signing a deal in the late afternoon.
Thursday, Jarry spoke with the media for the first time since the end of the regular season in which the Penguins’ 16-year playoff streak unceremoniously ended. Without specifying his injury, the goalie admitted that the mysterious injury and others lingered from the training camp onward.
“Just being (unable) to get ahead of it, not really get over it, was the toughest thing for me,” said Jarry.
For the record, Jarry also attempted to dispel the chronic hip rumors on Thursday.
Make no mistake, the goaltending position, with the butterfly style and new variations to stop pucks, has become a nightmare for the human body. Bodies are just not meant to frequently stretch and bend and flop up and down in the ways asked of goaltenders.
Jarry said he had adopted new training regimens to strengthen different areas, presumably his back. There is no indication that the injury or related maladies will linger into next season once he gets past them.
Injuries for starting goalies are the norm rather than the exception. The odds are solidly against Jarry having a fully healthy season, and president of hockey operations Kyle Dubas referenced the brutality of the position in his July 1 press conference after signing a third NHL goalie, Alex Nedeljkovic.
“There’s a lot of injuries at the position. I think the demands of the position, the way that it’s changed, the way the goaltenders play, it makes it more demanding,” said Dubas. “There are very few goalies that go through the year without an injury.”
Dubas later signed Magnus Hellberg, giving the Penguins four goalies who played at least 15 games in the NHL last season.
When healthy last season, Jarry reeled off 11 wins in the final 14 games of 2022, including a seven-game winning streak. He is not without talent, but is without a chronic hip problem.
For context, Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson started the final game of the regular season to increase his total appearances to 53. Last season, he missed time with an upper-body injury, a lower-body injury, and illness.
Carter Hart played 55 games. Injuries and ineffectiveness limited Sergei Bobrovsky to 50 games. Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark played 49 games.
Only seven goalies hit the 60-game mark, and only 25 netminders played in at least 41 games (50% of the NHL season).
Jarry played in 47 games, but several low notes tempered his hot streaks. He finished with a .909 save percentage after being at .920 in December.
Also, in a bit of common sense, it’s difficult to imagine a serious team signing a player with a chronic condition that would guarantee more seasons like the last to a five-year deal. The Penguins’ team physicians and trainers are in a position to know Jarry better than any.