Colorado Avalanche Forward Chris Stewart Breaks Hand, Probably Out Until 2011

Mickey McGuireCorrespondent INovember 28, 2010

DENVER - NOVEMBER 15:  Chris Stewart #25 of the Colorado Avalanche looks on against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center on November 15, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Blues 6-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Colorado Avalanche forward Chris Stewart will be out of action indefinitely after suffering a broken hand in a fight on Saturday, according to Avs coach Joe Sacco. He is expected to be out until at least New Years, but he will be reevaluated today.

"You never want to lose any player, and Chris is a big part of our team," Sacco said. "He's been playing very well for us. But you know what, like we've done in the past and we've dealt with this year, we'll deal with injuries as they come. You guys have heard me say this before: Change brings opportunity, so somebody else will have to step up in his place and get an opportunity to show the staff and show the organization what they can do.

The injury was suffered in a fight with Kyle Brodziak of the Minnesota Wild. The two exchanged blows, and Stewart ended up hitting Brodziak in the side of the helmet a couple times. After being sent to the locker room to serve his five minute fighting major penalty in the last three minutes of the second period, Stewart did not return.

The fight in question can be seen here.

This is without question a huge blow to a Colorado Avalanche team that was already injury-plagued to begin with. Stewart was the team's leading scorer and a Hart Trophy candidate with 11 goals and 14 assists.

The Avs are first in the NHL in goals per game at a clip of 3.5, and Chris Stewart has been a big reason for that. It is going to be difficult to replace Stewart, but there are options.

Fellow right wingers Milan Hejduk (8 goals, 18 assists) and David Jones (10 goals, 5 assists) are going to be depended on big time to fill the void in Stewart's absence. It is going to take more than that though. The entire team is going to be forced to step up their game if they want to stay on the playoff path.

Paul Stastny will be depended on to up the ante and lead by example, while some of the younger players like Matt Duchene and Kevin Shattenkirk will also be forced to step their game up in Stewart's absence.

This could honestly ruin the hopes of the Avs this year. Stewart is probably going to miss at lest four to six weeks, and that could be the difference between them being in the playoff hunt or out of it.