We’re just a couple weeks away from the All-Star break, so teams will have to decide soon if they will bring their injured players back before the break or give them a couple extra days to rest. There are advantages – nothing simulates game action better than the game itself – and disadvantages – waiting keeps a player off the ice longer – to consider, but the decisions will ultimately have an effect on fantasy owners.
Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly is a player in this type of situation. O’Reilly slammed headfirst into the boards last Friday and was thought to have a potentially serious injury, but he was later diagnosed with a sore shoulder and a concussion after being examined by a neurologist. It’s not clear how long O’Reilly will be out, but the latest reports have him missing at least two weeks. Fortunately it looks like O’Reilly only suffered a sprained shoulder, so rest and rehab will be sufficient. However, the Avalanche will still have to decide if they want to bring him back before or after the break. Sometimes those few extra days can mean a lot.
Tampa Bay’s Mike Smith will miss at least another week thanks to his sore knee. He strained his MCL during practice about three weeks ago and has sat out ever since. If Smith returns in a week, he will be back on the ice right before the break. He is likely to benefit from playing before the break due to the fact he can use those games to test his knee and make sure he is ready to get back on the ice. However, Smith will serve in a reserve role when he returns, so the Lightning may ultimately decide to keep him out since he won’t be playing much anyways.
One player that does not need to make a decision is Edmonton’s Ryan Whitney. He had surgery last week to repair a tendon in his ankle and is done for the season. The overall rehab process is simple. First he must wait for the tendon to heal. Then he will regain normal joint mobility and tendon mobility before strengthening the area. The final stages will work on balance and agility to ensure he is able to move on the ice without re-injuring the ankle region. Whitney is probably looking at minimum 3-to-4 month recovery but should be back at full strength by next season.
Washington’s Eric Fehr will miss the next 3-to-4 weeks with an injured shoulder and collarbone. In cases where the collarbone is involved, we have to consider a fracture or partial separation when discussing the injury. The timeline is too short for a fracture, so I am thinking he may have suffered a mild separation of the AC joint or the SC joint, the two joints that are formed at each end of the collarbone. Usually the injury is to the AC joint. It may be a mild separation, resulting in stretching of the joint and the ligaments. A few weeks of rest should provide enough time for the tissue to heal, but the extent of the injury will determine how fast it will heal. Fehr does have a history of shoulder problems, which may delay his return a little bit. We’ll have to wait and see.
Vancouver’s Alexandre Bolduc will be out four weeks with a shoulder injury. This is a bad break since he just returned from a high ankle sprain. Hopefully this is just a mild sprain and nothing serious. The Canucks are in a position to make a serious run at the Cup this year, but they will need everybody healthy. This isn’t the first year that the Canucks have done well in the regular season, but hopefully this year the end result will be different.
A fellow Canuck will also be out approximately the same time period. Aaron Rome sprained his knee and will be out three weeks. The All-Star break will give these guys extra time to heal and rehabilitate their injuries. As with many other injuries, knee injuries require attention to other areas for the rehab to be thorough. Sometimes the secondary areas are minor and do not require much attention. In other instances the secondary area may be a major reason for the injury or re-injury, so lots of re-training may be needed to ensure full recovery.
It was not meant to be this way, but the rest of this week’s installment has a “Hockeytown” theme. Detroit is playing excellent despite numerous injuries to key players. Let’s start with Chris Osgood. After dealing with what was initially thought to be a groin injury, he was re-examined and was diagnosed with a sports hernia. A sports hernia is a tearing of the abdominal muscle, so you can imagine the huge impact this has on a player and his ability to perform. Osgood recently underwent surgery and is slated to be out 6-to-8 weeks. A two-month recovery is possible, but it seems a little soon because the physical demands of hockey seem to regularly push back recovery timetables. I am more inclined to think Osgood will be him back in the three-month range. But I love it when I am proved wrong, so all the best to Osgood.
Tomas Holmstrom sustained a broken right hand Friday but will not need surgery. However, he is still expected to be out 3-to-4 weeks. The difficulty with a broken hand is that it can’t be used until the bone is healed. Holmstrom will then need to regain the strength and dexterity in the hand to manipulate the stick and to be able to produce the force needed for shot making. Not all hand injuries are the same, so we can only hope that the fracture is in a location that will allow him to recover faster.
Daniel Cleary is recovering from a broken ankle. He will need to regain his mobility after being immobilized, and then the long days in the training room regaining his strength and balance will begin. As long as normal tissue mobility returns after the period of immobility, he should recover with the rest. Cleary is expected to return around the All-Star break.
Pavel Datsyuk broke his wrist in December but is on the way back. It must have been a non-displaced fracture because the injury only required a cast. Datsyuk has resumed skating on his own, so he should be able to return to the ice once he regains the strength and motion in his wrist over the next couple weeks. Datsyuk hopes to return right after the All-Star break, but that timetable is a bit optimistic. Still, hopefully he is able to return to the ice by mid-February.
Mike Modano is not so lucky. He needed surgery to repair some severed tendons in December and remains on the sidelines. His wrist will remain in a cast a bit longer to ensure that the tendons are fully healed before they start to get stressed. The rehab program will include his entire arm because the connective tissue can and will most likely impact even his elbow and shoulder function as it relates to his ability to use his wrist muscles. As with all arm injuries, most athletes can resume skating in a relatively short period of time. The team expects Modano back sometime in early March, so he will likely be back in time for the end of the season and the playoffs.