Takin' a T/O with BT: 10 Injury-Plagued Teams around the NHL
Injuries are like babies: The minute they happen, everybody thinks theirs is special.
That is until the doctor comes in, snips the cord, spanks it on the bottom, and leaves.
Then, to the unbiased ear they all sound the same, and to the female eye they're all ridiculously cute and worth at least the next four hours of their time fawning over the infant.
Sidenote: Don't take that as jealously towards babies, because I'm not. I like them. If I were Snoop Dog I'd say "Them b-sizzles is fly dawg."
It just seemed like a natural place to start off for some reasons. Besides, why would I be jealous of something when I have complete control over my opposable thumbs while it's got to spend the next 10-12 years learning how? I'm already that far ahead. Point, me.
Then again, that's exactly what sports fans do. The ones who are connected to the injury spend the course of it simply fretting: The "what are we going to do" and "oh, woe is me" acts take over during the injury as fans worry about the player, their team's record, and the excuses that they're going to have to make when questioned about their team's play.
Of course if they start to win without player X in the lineup, then he can't get traded fast enough.
Or, if injuries mount and they lose something like 500 games, then there's already a built-in excuse that can last for eight seasons!
(See: Blue Jays, Toronto—2002 through 2009)
So with that, who just has the right to complain in the NHL due to injuries? Who's coming in to replace their fallen comrades? Is this list going to go in descending order with cool little band-aidy graphics as numbers?
Yes to all questions (except half of that last one). Damn you limited capacities.
10. The Toronto Maple Leafs
Yay! Another reference as to how goaltending play is so important!
Look, the Leafs aren't one of the more heavily-injured teams in the league up front. In fact, both players on long-term injured reserve (Mike Van Ryn and Phil Kessel) never started the season on the ice. Van Ryn, unfortunately, may never see it again.
But whether they were playing well or not, it's hard to win without your top two goalies in Vesa Toskala and Jonas Gustavsson.
Gustavsson is close to returning (which is a good sign), meaning that Joey MacDonald won't get hung out to dry any longer.
9. Erik Cole, Carolina Hurricanes
Edmonton Oiler fans just stuck their hand in a desk drawer and slammed it as hard as they could.
For some reason, Erik Cole only performs his best when he's in Carolina. Kind of like every other player (Tuomo Ruutu, Sergei Samsonov, Matt Cullen) that goes to Carolina. That's why he makes the list.
Unfortunately for him, Cole seems to get seriously injured in Carolina as well.
Either way, Cole still brings a very gritty presence to the Carolina lineup that is able to produce some points and throw his body around alongside Eric Staal.
There are players on the Carolina roster who can fill in a bit of that physicality (Chad LaRose and Tom Kostoplous) and there are others who can score (Jussi Jokinen, Samsonov, and Ruutu), but it's hard to replace the exact package Cole brings.
8. The Dallas Stars
For the Stars, their injuries fall more in the way of their veteran leadership.
Last year, they lost Captain Brendan Morrow early on to a devastating knee injury and then proceeded to lose their minds over Sean Avery.
This year, defenseman Matt Niskanen is a little banged up, but Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen are missing from action as well. Both players fell off the offensive aptitude scale faster than Lindsay Lohan from the "I want to experiment" phase, so getting a player like Fabian Brunnstrom more time could help him adjust to the North American game.
Thenagain, if it turns out like last year, younger players like Jamie Benn and Tom Wandell are already benefiting from the expanded roles.
7. The Nashville Predators
We'll get to the gruesome solo injuries, I promise. But, because we're talking about team sports, we've got to mention a few team situations.
To start things off, the Predators just lost No. 1 center Jason Arnott to an arm injury. In a season where J.P. Dumont has also missed extended time due to injury and the Predators are looking up at the rest of the Central Division, this is a tough one to deal with.
Fortunately for the Preds, they now get the opportunity to drop two of their top center prospects—Colin Wilson and Cal O'Reilly—into larger roles with Wilson getting expanded responsibilities and O'Reilly getting a call up.
Then there's Jordin Tootoo, who has yet to play again. Despite that, Tootoo brings a Sean Avery quality with him that gives the Predators a different attitude when he's on the ice, much like Avery boosts the Rangers. It's very hard to replace.
But I do have a question: Is it the Rangers Avery likes playing for, or the city of New York? I think we should trade him to the Islanders and see if he's the same, or if he goes the way of Chris Simon and runs to Russia.
6. Sergei Gonchar—Pittsburgh Penguins
One of the more prominent players with a recent injury on our list, Gonchar is lost to the Penguins once again at the start of the season.
Not only does Gonchar's breaking his wrist take away the Penguins' offensive game, but the defense loses its leader and (much like last year) will be forced to cope.
Also, will Gonchar be fully healed from his wrist injury and back at full strength, or is he going to have to take a few games to get back up to speed before making an impact?
Every year, though, it seems that Alex Goligoski and Kris Letang are getting thrust into bigger roles because of injury, rather than brought along slowly.
When life after Gonchar and not between him starts, the Penguins have the advantage.
5. Johan Franzen—Detroit Red Wings
Lose Marian Hossa over the offseason to a division rival, and then lose Franzen at the start of the season. That's a tough one.
The loss of Hossa didn't deter me on the Wings that much. They had a few young players that were due to step up, and they always seem to find that extra production anyhow.
Thenagain, they won the Cup the year before without Hossa.
I was a little more wary about losing Franzen. After all, this is a guy who scored after tearing up his knee and not getting it checked out until the next morning.
Thenagain, the Wings always seem to recover. Whether veterans Jason Williams or Todd Bertuzzi begin to produce a little extra or Ville Leino, Darren Helm, and Justin Abdelkader step it up a little, the Wings will find production.
4. Andrei Markov—Montreal Canadiens
The injury to Markov is only this low because of the volume of injuries to stars on other teams.
Fact is, you can sign as many Marc-Andre Bergerons as you want, but it won't replace Andrei Markov.
He's one of the best defensemen in the league at both ends, and was a point away from leading his team in scoring last year—a feat unheard of for a blue liner.
The Habs will need contributions from all their defensemen, while Yannick Weber and Shawn Belle will have to be steady presences whenever they hear their name called up.
In the realm of "strange players stepping up": Paul Mara leads the defensemen in points with five assists. And this is ahead of names like Roman Hamrlik and Jaroslav Spacek.
Sometimes I wonder why I even bother writing season previews.
3. The Vancouver Canucks
I guess it's a good thing that Vancouver spent all of that money upgrading their defense over the offseason because now it's paying dividends.
Just prior to the beginning of the season, the Canucks lost recent signee Mathieu Schneider. Thanks to that, Canucks fans were a little concerned at who was going to step up with a bit of a hole there.
Fortunately enough, they had Sami Salo, who has the offensive abilities to fill in on a top four pairing. Well guess what? Now he's hurt.
On the blue line, the Canucks don't have many more offensive options. Aaron Rome and Shane O'Brien are providing bodies capable of taking over those spots, but the offensive weight is left to the shoulder of the big guns and Alexander Edler, who'll need to consistently produce at both ends of the ice.
Up front, it was thought the Cancuks took their biggest hit in losing Daniel Sedin. Not only did they lose one player, but the Canucks had to be wary of what Henrik was doing because they're never too far apart on anything it seems.
But even with that loss, many people forgot about the talent from which the Canucks could draw. Not only was Sergei Shirokov still available to be called up, but Michael Grabner got the call and has looked comfortable so far.
2. The Minnesota Wild
The Wild lost Cal Clutterbuck, Martin Havlat, Peter Sykora, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard to start the year while they were still waiting on Brent Burns, too.
No team loses that many players (their entire second line) and successfully integrates a brand new system, does it?
The Wild have been dealt a tough hand early on because of the fact that such a rash of injuries leaves them shorthanded with the quality to replace those players. As they get healthier though, expect the Wild to start to recoup their losses.
1. The Boston Bruins
No team came into the season with bigger expectations than the Boston Bruins, and while (numbers-wise) they haven't been hit with the injury bug, talent-wise it has hit them big time.
In losing Marc Savard and Milan Lucic, the Bruins lose one of the top passers and faceoff men in the game and the power forward that everyone is afraid of.
It gives the Bruins a far different look—a look that no one had expected to see (As Savard has stayed fairly healthy over the past few years).
Now, we're seeing Peter Chiarelli's creativity with the team, acquiring Daniel Paille and calling up Brad Marchand in hopes of solving those woes.
Having those injuries at the same time, though, may have Boston out on a limb.
Best of the Rest
If Hossa gets injured while playing and you don't sign him that way, you're in.
You don't even notice a missing Patrick Elias when you've got Zach Parise.
It's tough losing both Sheldon Souray and Steve Staios at the same time.
The numbers are there, but not many of them are as much consequence as the other teams'.
Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer and an NHL Community Leader for Bleacher Report. You can also check out Bryan on Hockey54.com—The Face of the Game! Get in contact with Bryan through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or his profile and be sure to check out his archives .
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