Welcome to The Quiet Room, your home for discussion and explanation of NHL injuries – what they are, how they’re treated, and what they mean for the player and team involved.
Who am I? With over ten years as a paramedic, a few months away from medical school graduation, a lifelong love of hockey, and a loud mouth, I’m your tour guide to all things injury-related in the NHL.
2011-2012 Season Opening Injuries
As the 2011-2012 NHL hockey season finally starts and fans everywhere prepare to start ignoring their families in favour of their fantasy teams, every single club finds themselves at least one player short thanks to injuries. Some teams are worse off than others, with Vancouver and Columbus more than likely looking to recruit concessions vendors and spectators to flesh out their opening night line-ups.
Here’s your team-by-team look at who’s injured, and when you might expect to see them back in action.
Matt Beleskey LW – Shoulder: Beleskey had surgery on his left shoulder in May to repair a torn labrum, and just resumed contact drills last week. He’s questionable for the first two games of the season.
Kurtis Foster D – Leg: Foster broke his left femur in 2008, an injury that required orthopedic surgery to place a rod into the bone. Part of the hardware has worked its way loose (which isn’t uncommon) and was surgically removed last week. This shouldn’t affect the bone as it’s already long since healed, so this should be a fairly quick recovery. Expect him to miss the first few games of the season.
Toni Lydman D – Shoulder: Lydman is apparently incredibly uncreative, and has the same injury/surgery/expected return-to-play as Beleskey.
Matt Smaby D – Thumb: A torn ligament in Smaby’s right thumb will need surgery, and could keep him out of action for several months.
Steve Kampfer D – Knee: A sprained MCL (medial collateral ligament) will keep Kampfer out for two to four weeks of physical therapy.
Marc Savard C – Concussion: After concussions in 2010 and 2011, Savard has been sidelined for the 2011-2012 season. He’s said to still be suffering from daily post-concussive symptoms, and it’s starting to look like he may never play hockey again. Here’s hoping that’s not the case, but it isn’t looking good.
Jochen Hecht LW – Head: Hecht ended up with a concussion in mid-September thanks to a hit in the face with Shaone Morrison’s helmet. He’s back skating, but no contact as of yet. He’s had a re-occurrence of headaches, and will miss the start of the season. The number of games before he returns will depend on his symptoms.
Mikael Backlund C – Finger: Backlund broke a finger in practice over the weekend, and had repair surgery early this week. He’ll be back in about six weeks.
Rene Bourque RW – Soreness: Yes, really. Soreness. The Flames have stayed quiet about what actually happened to Bourque in training camp, only going so far as to say it wasn’t a concussion. He’s expected to be on the ice for the home opener October 8th.
Brett Carson D – Back: Carson has had some sort of mysterious ongoing back problems throughout the pre-season. He’s been skating but not practicing, and it’s hard to say when he’ll be back in the line-up seeing as how “back problems” isn’t exactly a real diagnosis. Doubtful he’ll be back for the opener.
Raitis Ivanans LW – Concussion: The first game of last season was also the only game for Ivanans, who suffered a concussion in a fight with former Oiler Steve MacIntyre (now with the Penguins). He’s back to contact skating as of late last week, and should be in the line-up for the first game of the season (and hopefully the rest of them too).
Jarome Iginla RW – Back: Iginla has been plagued by back spasms in the pre-season. He’s been skating for short stretches, likely because back spasms really suck and make everything miserable. The strategy here is staying active enough to keep from getting stiff, but not so active as to aggravate anything. Iginla is expected to play in the home opener.
Tim Jackman RW – Undisclosed: Jackman has been a victim of a mysterious training camp injury as well. Whatever it was must be getting better, as he’s been practicing with the team. Assuming his injured (whatever) stays healthy, he should be in the opening night line-up. Update: Groin. In case you don’t pick up on this, the theme of this post is definitely groins.
Brendan Morrison C – Knee: A left ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) repair done in April should be well-healed by now, and will give Morrison a set of scars to match the ones on his right knee from 2008. He’s been upfront about wanting to play in the first game of the season, and being almost 6 months out from surgery should definitely be ready. That said, he’s still been practicing without contact.
Tuomo Ruutu C – Lower body: Ruutu’s unspecified lower-body injury hasn’t kept him from practicing with the team, so expect him to be back for the first regular season game.
Dave Bolland C – Upper Body: According to Joel Quenneville, the upper body injury Bolland sustained in a pre-season game has nothing to do with a previous concussion. No word on what the injury is, or when he’ll be back. He’s day-to-day for now.
Patrick Sharp LW – Appendix: Sharp had his appendix out September 12th, and has said that he plans to play in the opening game but is still technically day-to-day.
Ben Smith RW – Concussion: Smith is said to be doing well after taking a shoulder to the head from Brendan Smith in a pre-season game against Detroit. There is no timeline set for his return, and as we all know by now concussions are the sneaky jerk of the injury world – this could be days, weeks, months… There’s no way to know for now.
Viktor Stalberg LW – Leg: Stalberg is out for three weeks with a left knee injury resulting from a collision in the same game against Detroit. He underwent testing the next day and is supposed to be out for two to three weeks, suggesting this is just a bruise or a sprain.
Kyle Cumiskey D – Groin: Cumiskey is on IR now, so this unspecified groin injury looks to be a bit more serious than just soreness.
Jan Hejda D – Knee: A knee injury in an exhibition game September 20th apparently wasn’t too serious, as Hejda is skating with the team and was only supposed to be out for two weeks. This puts his return sometime around the beginning of the regular season.
Mark Olver C – Head: Olver was placed on the IR, but no info on whether this is a concussion, or something simpler. IR suggests something on the more serious side.
Brandon Yip RW – Broken Arm: After a dismal season last year and a broken arm in a pre-season game against St. Louis, things aren’t looking good for Yip. He’ll be out four to six weeks healing the arm, and will likely end up going to the Lake Erie Monsters (a team with a completely excellent name, which is probably unlikely to be of any comfort to Yip).
Columbus Blue Jackets:
Jared Boll RW – Thumb: Boll broke his right thumb in a pre-season fight, and is going to be out for four to six weeks. Assuming this is a simple thumb fracture (no bones sticking out, no joint involvement), he’ll start out in a thumb spica cast – also known as the beer can cast because of the hand position. He can expect physical therapy after the cast comes off, and it can take a few months to recover full strength/use.
Matt Calvert LW – Groin: About a week out from a groin pull, Calvert is skating and may be back for the start of the regular season.
Mark Dekanich G – High Ankle Sprain: This isn’t the first time Dekanich has sustained this exact injury to his right leg. High ankle sprains happen when there’s damage to the ligament that connects the two bones of the lower leg (the tibia and fibula) and depending on severity can lead to months of recovery. The team has said he’ll be out four to six weeks, so it doesn’t seem likely that this is bad enough for surgery.
Kristian Huselius LW – Torn Pectoral: In mid-July Huselius tore one of his pecs, and he’s still recovering. This is a surgical fix and usually requires four to six months of healing. He could be back mid-November at the earliest, but it’s more likely to be sometime in January.
Rick Nash RW – Undisclosed: Nash has an undisclosed “very mild” injury. It’s not keeping him from practicing, so expect to see him on opening night.
Jamie Benn LW – Sore Groin: This injury requires no explanation. His groin hurts. The end. Benn will be playing in the season opener.
Adam Burish RW – Sore Groin: Another member of the groin club, Burish is probably not going to be back on opening night, but should be shortly thereafter.
Nicklas Grossman D – Sore Groin: All groin, all the time. Grossman may be out for the season opener (per Nieuwendyk), or he may not (per Gulutzan).
Brenden Morrow LW – Knee: A sore knee had Morrow taking it easy and missing the last pre-season game. He’s practicing with the team and should be on the ice for the first regular season game.
Adam Pardy D – Ribs: Pardy suffered a rib injury in a pre-season game against St. Louis, and won’t start the regular season. He’s been placed on IR, indicating this is more than just upper body soreness.
Detroit Red Wings:
Mike Commodore D – Knee: Commodore has an MCL bruise, and will be sitting out for about three weeks to rehab it. No word on whether his rehab is presented by Amway.
Jan Mursak LW – Fractured Ankle: Mursak broke his left ankle September 25th in a pre-season game against Chicago. Ken Holland has said there’s more to it than just a broken ankle – apparently there are other fractured bones and some torn ligaments. There’s still a question of whether surgery will be needed, and Mursak will likely be out until at least beginning of the new year.
Ben Eager LW – Concussion: A hit early on in training camp resulted in what Eager has been calling whiplash (not a concussion). The team says he could miss the first game of the season, but it seems like nobody let him in on that secret as he’s been pretty vocal about being ready to go.
Taylor Fedun D – Broken Femur: We got a graphic look at why touch icing is a horrible idea as Fedun broke his right femur on September 30th in a pre-season game against Minnesota. He underwent surgery the night of the injury, most likely a medullary nail (a fancy way of saying they put a rod in his leg). The recovery time is staggering for these injuries – bone healing takes about three months, and a return to pre-injury levels is expected at about the one-year mark (barring complications). We won’t be seeing Fedun back this season.
Ales Hemsky RW – Upper Body: Hemsky is a veteran of multiple shoulder surgeries, which makes his shoulder-first trip into the boards in a September 30th pre-season game of particular concern. He’s listed as day-to-day, and it’ll be interesting to see if this develops into something serious.
Ryan Whitney LW – Ankle: An off-season tweak of a previous ankle injury (a right ankle tendon repair last winter) had Whitney out for the pre-season. He’s skating and traveling with the team, but if he’s able to start regular season games he’s going to be held to less minutes than usual per the coaching staff. The good news is the injury hasn’t affected his ability to make fun of Eberle and Hall on Twitter.
Scott Clemmensen G – Knee: Clemmensen has had a “minor” knee surgery, and is expected to miss a month. Apparently he had the same procedure three weeks ago but had to go under the knife again when he experienced swelling in the joint. The fact that Kevin Dineen has said he should only be out a month points towards this being a scope, as opposed to a full on ligament repair (like an ACL or MCL). A knee scope (properly known as a knee arthroscopy) is a pretty common procedure where a tiny camera is put in the knee in order to find injuries, or repair ones that are already there (such as torn cartilage).
Mike Santorelli C – Shoulder: Santorelli injured his shoulder in a pre-season game against Dallas. Not only is he expected to be out three to four weeks, it looks like he’ll be returning to the AHL once he heals. It’s not a great time to be Mike Santorelli.
Los Angeles Kings:
Colin Fraser C – Foot: A blocked shot in March left former Oiler Fraser with a broken foot that required surgery in July. He’s practicing with full contact, and could be ready for the start of the regular season. Of course, his start may well be in the AHL, and the Kings will continue their squabble with the Oilers over whether they were dealt a lemon.
Jake Muzzin D – Head/Neck: A check into the glass in a September 21st Pre-season game against the Coyotes has left Muzzin with a stiff neck and headaches. He still hasn’t been cleared to play/practice. It looks like he’ll be starting the season on injured reserve, with no idea when he’ll be back.
Cody Almond C – Back Injury: An unspecified back injury has Almond on injured reserve. No timeline for his return, and no word on whether it will be to the Wild or the AHL Houston Aeros.
Cal Clutterbuck RW – Sore Groin: Mr. My-Name-Is-Better-Than-Yours sat out the last pre-season game with a sore groin, but should be back for the first game of the season against the Blue Jackets (assuming enough of them heal to ice a full team).
Matt Cullen C – Tangradi Victim: Cullen is apparently a little sore after getting smoked by Tangradi in a pre-season game on September 24th. No specific injuries, just generally sore. He should be back for the start of the season.
Matt Kassian LW – Broken Finger: A tangle with Darcy Hordichuk’s jersey in the pre-season left Kassian with a broken finger. He’s practicing with the team, and should play in the opening game if he makes the roster. Staubitz’ suspension for the first three games of the season makes this a real possibility, although Kassian remains on IR for now.
Mike Lundin D – Back Spasms: Lundin is on injured reserve after missing the pre-season with back spasms (which you may recall from earlier in the post truly suck). No word on when he should be able to play, but a few weeks might be a safe bet.
Jared Spurgeon D – Bruised Rib: Spurgeon sat out the end of the pre-season to rehab a bruised rib, but is expected to start the regular season.
Chris Campoli D – Head: Tampa’s Ryan Malone escaped the Shanawrath after a hit to Campoli’s head in the last pre-season game for the Habs. Campoli is traveling with the team, but no word on whether he’ll play in the season opener, despite the fact that no actual injury has been specified.
Lars Eller C – Shoulder: A dislocated shoulder in the Bruins/Canadiens playoff series led to repair surgery in May. The usual healing time for this surgery would put him back in the lineup anywhere from September to November. That said, Eller has been making noises about being ready for the start of the season – noises Jacques Martin isn’t interested in hearing. Eller remains day-to-day.
Andre Markov D – Knee: Poor Markov. Poor, injured Markov. Poor Markov can’t stay healthy, and this season is no exception. Right knee inflammation after an ACL reconstruction last season will likely keep him out of the beginning of the season. He’s skating, but not with the team, and he’s doubtful for opening night.
Travis Moen LW – Lower Body: An unspecified lower body injury in the September 24th game against the Senators has Moen listed as day-to-day for the season opener.
Ryan White C – Groin: White tried skating earlier this week, and it didn’t go well. He’s now back off the ice, and will need at least another week (if not longer) of groin rehab. He’ll miss the season opener, and it’s hard to say when he’ll be back. Groins are like concussions – they’re unpredictable and difficult to heal.
Francis Bouillon D – Concussion: Boullion has just resumed skating with the Preds after a concussion in January sidelined him. Look for this to be an extended recovery – taking 9 months to be able to just skate isn’t a great sign.
Mike Fisher C – Shoulder: Fisher had shoulder surgery at the start of the off-season, and recovery has been slower than expected. He’s drilling with the team, but won’t be ready for the season opener. The fact that he’s practicing is a good sign, and we may see him back sooner rather than later.
New Jersey Devils:
Travis Zajac C – Torn Achilles: Plyometrics are evil, and Travis Zajac knows why. He tore his left Achilles tendon in the off-season while doing the worst workout known to man (including Tae Bo). He had a surgical repair in mid-August, and won’t be back until November at the earliest – and that’s a liberal estimate.
New York Islanders:
Trevor Gillies LW – Groin: In addition to having an absolutely terrible team picture this year, Gillies has a sore groin. He’s expected to be back either on opening night or very shortly thereafter.
Nino Niederreiter RW – Groin: Niederreiter hurt his groin in a pre-season game, and has the same timeline for return as Gillies.
Jeremy Colliton C – Groin: Seriously? More groin? So playing in Long Island is a real kick in the… Never mind. Nothing official, but probably a similar timeline to his groinmates Gillies and Niederreiter.
Rhett Rakhshani RW – Knee: Rakhshani had just started to skate again after a concussion sustained in early September when he sprained his knee. He’ll probably be out until mid-November, which is disappointing enough on its own – more so since it was looking like he was going to be starting the season in the NHL.
Mark Katic D – Shoulder: Katic had left surgery in September for what’s been reported as a dislocation, a torn labrum (that’s the rim of cartilage around the socket of the shoulder joint), a broken shoulder, and a shoulder separation (where two of the bones making up the shoulder become separated, hence the name). Hard to say exactly what his recovery time will be without knowing which of these is the actual injury (and they’re all pretty different, although a dislocation can cause a torn labrum). It’s been said that he could be out for as much as three-quarters of the regular season (six months), which makes a fracture or torn labrum more likely than a separation.
New York Rangers:
Marc Staal D – Concussion: Some Staal-on-Staal action in February ended with Marc suffering a concussion at Eric’s hands. He passed his neuropsychological testing and returned to play after the injury, but apparently had been having issues with exertion-related headaches all summer. He won’t travel with the team to Europe for the opener and continues to receive a variety of treatments, including a steroid injection for neck inflammation. There’s been some discussion about whether the headaches are truly post-concussive versus related to some sort of neck pathology. Regardless, he’s now on the IR and will be out at least another month. Tim Erixon has been called up from the AHL and is on his way to Stockholm for the opener.
Michael Sauer D – Shoulder: Nothing to see here. Sauer strained his right shoulder last week, but should be ready to go for the opener.
Wojtek Wolski LW – Sore Groin: Yep. Sore Groin. Again. If you learn nothing else today, at least take away the fact that hockey and groins don’t get along very well. Tortorella says he’s “okay” though, so with luck he won’t miss many games at the start of the season.
Matt Carkner D – Knee Boo-Boo: What Coach Paul MacLean originally described as a “boo-boo” was operated on this week. Carkner had a scope on his right knee in the spring to clean out cartilage fragments, and his summer training may have been a bit too vigorous, re-aggravating the joint. He’s going to be out at least four to six weeks.
Peter Regin C – Shoulder: Regin had surgery in March for a separated left shoulder, and was all set to not suck this year when a hit from John-Michael Liles in a pre-season game against the Leafs put the brakes on his plans. He hit the boards with the previously-injured shoulder, and wasn’t seen again for the rest of the pre-season. The good news is there doesn’t seem to be a re-separation and he should be good to go for the opener. The bad news is he may suck again this year.
Jesse Winchester C – Shoulder: Winchester injured his shoulder on the opening day of training camp, but has been working out with trainers and should be back to practicing with the team by next week. Look for him to return to play a week or two into the season.
Sidney Crosby C – Concussion: There’s not much to be said here that hasn’t already been said a zillion times. Sid is skating and traveling with the team, he’s improving day by day, but he’s still not cleared for contact and won’t play in the season opener. Zero speculation here on when he’ll be back.
Dustin Jeffrey C – Knee: Jeffrey had a left ACL repair in April, and is participating in contact drills. He’s on the IR, but like Crosby can come back without the seven day waiting period, as his injury occurred last year. His knee is said to be in good condition, so expect to see him back towards the beginning of the season.
Brooks Orpik D – Hernia: Orpik had a right-sided sports hernia repair in July, no doubt to match the repair he already had on the left. Or maybe because his groin was killing him. A sports hernia refers to a dilation of the superficial inguinal ring – a canal in the groin through which several nerves and the spermatic cord pass (stop being so grossed out, it’s totally natural). It’s actually not technically a hernia (since the guts don’t poke through it), but it causes groin and testicle pain on exertion (I said stop being grossed out). Orpik is skating with the team, but remains doubtful for opening night. This is generally a two-month recovery, so he should be ready to play soon.
Bonus section – Penguins prospects in pain: It’s a bad time to be in Pittsburgh’s farm system. Three AHL players that were supposed to see NHL time this year are on IR – Robert Bortuzzo D (knee, out one to two weeks), Nick Petersen RW (concussion, unknown timeframe), and Boris Valabik D (knee, skating but not with the team). Centre Keven Veilleux was sent down to the AHL Wilkes-Barre Penguins where he immediately injured his knee. He’ll be evaluated this week.
Ian Laperriere RW – Concussion: Lappy missed all of last season with post-concussive symptoms (to include vision problems) after taking pucks to the face. He’s not expected to play this season either (or possibly ever again).
Kurt Sauer D – Concussion: A neck injury in a 2009 pre-season game has left Sauer with severe ongoing post-concussive symptoms. Supposedly he’s been improving using Brainwave Optimization Technology, something I’ve never heard of, and can’t find in any legitimate scientific journals. It’s said to use audio feedback to balance uneven brain activity. Yeah. Okay. Hey, I hope it works for him. Just to be on the safe side, don’t place any bets on seeing him back on the ice this season.
San Jose Sharks:
Martin Havlat RW – Shoulder: Havlat had an arthroscopic shoulder procedure in May, and is hopeful that he’ll be able to play in the season opener. It probably isn’t looking good seeing as how he’s still not doing contact drills.
Antti Niemi G – Knee: Niemi had a cyst removed from his knee before training camp and should be good to go for opening night, although he hasn’t committed to anything yet. He’s still saying that he’s taking it “Day-by-day.”
Antero Niittymaki G – Left Hip: Niittymaki had surgery on his left hip in late September to deal with lingering symptoms from an injury last season. He’s already had surgery on the left side twice – once for a torn labrum (the rim of cartilage around the hip socket) and once to “clean out the joint”. He’s projected to be out for three months this time.
St. Louis Blues:
Jason Arnott C – Eye: Arnott had a cataract removed from his right eye September 28th, but is expected to play in the season opener. Cataracts are most common in older people, but can be a result of trauma.
Carlo Colaiacovo D – Upper Body: Colaiacovo sustained an unspecified chest injury in a September 29th pre-season game, but came through diagnostic testing with flying colours – no anatomical injury. He should play in the opener.
B.J. Crombeen RW – Shoulder: Crombeen broke his left scapula (shoulder blade) in the Blues’ last pre-season game. Scapular fractures are fairly uncommon, but usually heal very well with just immobilization. He’s looking at six weeks at the absolute minimum, probably more like two to three months.
David Perron LW – Concussion: A Joe Thornton hit last November sidelined Perron for the rest of the season with post-concussive symptoms. He’s one of the few positive concussion stories, as he’s been experiencing steady improvement. He’s been skating and working out for about the last month, and passed baseline neuropsychological testing. His return is dependent on his symptoms, but it seems like he’s on the right path.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Dominic Moore C – Back: Moore had an MRI on his sore back which showed no structural damage, and he may play in the opener.
Mattias Ohlund D – Right Knee: Ohlund had this knee repaired in May, and is now having swelling and pain to the joint. An MRI showed nothing structural, but he’s out for now, and will need two weeks to a month to get back to business.
Toronto Maple Leafs:
Tim Connolly C – Upper Body: Filed under “completely unsurprising” is the news that Tim Connolly will start the 2011-2012 season injured. Filed under “does anyone actually care?” is the news that he’s not doing any contact drills. Supposedly this is a shoulder injury. He’ll be back in action… Eventually. Since this is Tim Connolly, it’s probably not worth speculating.
Nazem Kadri C – Left MCL Sprain: Kadri sprained his knee in a pre-season game against the Sens. The Leafs are anticipating a two to four week recovery.
Nolan Baumgartner D – Fractured Foot; Aaron Rome D – Fractured Finger: These two get to be listed together because they both managed to break stuff in a pre-season game against the Sharks, and they’ll both miss four to six weeks.
Ryan Kesler C – Hip: Kesler had his left hip labrum repaired this summer, a procedure you can read about in this fabulous piece of injury bloggery. He was cleared for contact this week, and although original estimates had him back in mid- to late October, sometime in November might be a better bet. Here’s hoping his hip recovery doesn’t affect his Keslurking.
Manny Malhotra C – Eye: A special mention for Manny Malhotra, who has undergone several eye surgeries after a puck in the eye in March threatened his vision (and his career). He’s newly dedicated to the visor-wearing lifestyle, and should start the regular season.
Steve Pinizzotto RW/C – Dislocated Shoulder: That same San Jose game didn’t do AHLer Pinizzotto any favours, as he came out of it with a dislocated shoulder. Instead of making the Canucks’ roster (which was looking pretty likely), he’s out indefinitely.
Mason Raymond LW – Back: A fractured vertebrae in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final raised questions about whether Raymond will ever play again, and about the appropriateness of apologizing for breaking someone’s spine via text message. He was originally projected to return in December, but isn’t skating yet, and is still having some back discomfort. He’s hopeful he’ll be able to stick to the original recovery projection, but as with any injury this serious, there’s no guarantees.
John Erskine D – Shoulder: Erskine had shoulder surgery in May, and still isn’t participating in contact drills. He’s been making comments to the effect that he feels like he’ll be ready soon, so expect him to be back in the short-term.
Tom Poti D – Groin: Poti missed a large part of last season with a pulled muscle in his groin, and failed his pre-season physical. He’s expected to miss this whole season, and I suspect we’re not getting the full story here. There’s talk of medical versus surgical treatment, leading to a suspicion that this is something more substantial than just a pull.
Dustin Byfuglien D; Randy Jones D – Banged Up: These two may be missing the season opener because they’re – yes, that’s right – banged up. Thank you, Claude Noel. Thank you.
Eric Fehr RW – Shoulder: A repair on a torn right labrum in May has Fehr likely to be back in mid-November. Fehr has a history of shoulder injuries, so look for this recovery to take longer than it might for someone on their first ride at the messed-up shoulder rodeo.
Ben Maxwell C, Kenndal McArdle LW, Aaron Gagnon C – Mystery Ailments: This group of forwards that have bounced between the NHL and AHL for years are all out with some sort of twilight zone injuries that Noel isn’t sharing with the rest of us.
The bottom line:
There’s a lot of groin issues, a lot of concussions, and a lot of GMs that aren’t talking. Any injury list can change literally from hour to hour, so we really won’t know who is or isn’t playing on opening day until the puck drops.