In a season that has spiraled out of control the New York Islanders suffered another blow this evening as captain John Tavares became the first superstar to be forced out of the Sochi Olympic hockey tournament with an injury.
In Canada’s 2-1 victory over Latvia, Tavares was skating down the right-wing boards when this seemingly innocent check took place…
Now at first glance, there is not much to see but if you look closer, you can clearly see Tavares’ left knee bend slightly inwards and per the featured image of this column, the result was him laying on the ice, awaiting the trainer to come out.
Managing to get up and skate off under his own power to the locker room seemed like a good sign but let’s not forget Erik Karlsson did also when he suffered a lacerated Achilles tendon against the Pittsburgh Penguins. These players are tough as nails and sometimes, if they return to the game, always want to skate off on their own and not even accept help.
Tavares will almost certainly fly back to Long Island for re-evaluation with team doctors before a long-term prognosis is even determined. Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock already ruled the superstar out for the rest of the tournament.
With the Islanders next game occurring a week from tomorrow at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs, they could be missing their top two centers as Frans Nielsen suffered a broken hand in the game before the break and will not be ready for another two weeks.
Also announced today was that forward Matt Martin missed the resumption of practice with a lower body injury. With the impending trades of Andrew MacDonald and Thomas Vanek before or at the March 5 trade deadline, there could be much more to think about for general manager Garth Snow now about the conditional first round pick he sent to Buffalo along with Matt Moulson.
Without Tavares, Nielsen, MacDonald and Vanek, the team could be staring down the barrel of a bottom five finish in a weak draft year. With next year’s talented crop of rookies looking much more promising, it certainly will not be an easy decision to make for the organization moving forward.
And to think, before the games started, all Islanders fans were rightfully worried about Vanek making it back unscathed. It turned out to be not only a vital cog in Canada’s gold medal chances, but the Islanders far and away best player and third leading scorer in the entire league.
What could be next in a tumultuous, disastrous year for the club? Word that the Nassau Coliseum, one year from retirement, suffers a roof collapse at the hand of heavy snow and ice, forcing the team to play out the string at Madison Square Garden?
It would not surprise me one bit.