There are teams that suffer from injury problems, and then there is the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avs revealed on Friday that defenseman Jan Hejda and forward Brandon Yip would be unavailable due to injuries suffered in preseason contests. This is a foreboding way to begin the 2011-12 campaign for a team that lost close to 500 man games to injury a season ago.
Hejda, who played last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets and signed with Colorado as a free agent during the offseason, injured his knee during the Avalanche's burgundy-white scrimmage in Colorado Springs on September 20. The Denver Post is reporting that he is expected to be out for two to four weeks, and that he will likely be unavailable for the team's season opener against the Detroit Red Wings on October 8.
Hejda, listed at 6'4", 237 pounds, brings size to the Avalanche blue line that was lacking last season. He has spent the majority of the preseason as one of the top defensemen on Colorado's depth chart, and speculation has been that he would skate next to Erik Johnson to form the team's number one defensive pair to begin the season.
Yip broke his forearm blocking a shot during the Avs' last preseason game against the St. Louis Blues on September 23. He will be out indefinitely. This is not good news for Yip, who is battling for an NHL roster spot after a less than inspired 2010-11 season. He faces some stiff competition from a talented group of Avalanche prospects. We may see Yip start his season with the AHL's Lake Erie Monsters.
If the Avalanche are to climb up from the bottom of the NHL standings, they will have to stay healthier than last year. For a team looking to shake the injury bug, this is certainly not the best start.
UPDATE: The Avalanche are reporting that Hejda did not practice on Saturday, but did spend some time skating. This would seem to indicate that Hejda's knee injury isn't severe, which is great news for the team.