VANCOUVER – The struggling Vancouver Canucks can’t seem to catch a break on the injury front.
The team announced Thursday that centre Mike Santorelli has undergone surgery to repair a torn labrum and will be out five to six months, effectively ending his season.
The news came after assistant coach Mike Sullivan told reporters defenceman Kevin Bieksa won’t accompany the Canucks on their five-game road trip that leads into the Olympic break.
“It’s more than (a maintenance day),” said Sullivan of Bieksa’s absence from practice. “He is not going to join us on the trip.
“We don’t know the details of it yet. When we get more information we’ll update you.”
On top of that, fellow defenceman Christopher Tanev is out with what’s believed to be a broken hand. Captain Henrik Sedin has missed the last five games with an upper-body injury, although Sullivan expects him back soon.
“He’s still day-to-day, but I believe he will join us on this trip and we are hopeful that we’ll get him at some point here,” said Sullivan.
It all adds up to a very busy sick bay for a team that has just four wins in its last 15 games (4-8-3), including just two victories in regulation.
The loss of Santorelli hurts up front as the Canucks have been held to two goals or less in nine of their last 10 games.
The 28-year-old, who was injured Jan. 16, had 10 goals and 18 assists in 49 games this season. A native of nearby Burnaby, B.C., Santorelli impressed head coach John Tortorella in training camp and became one his most trusted players the first half of the season.
“After consultation with our team physicians, we determined Mike would require a procedure on his shoulder,” Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said in statement. “The surgery was successful and we expect a full recovery.”
Santorelli—who can become an unrestricted free agent in July—had been a journeyman in the league until appearing to find a home with the Canucks. He was put on waivers by the Florida Panthers last season and picked up by the Winnipeg Jets before signing with Vancouver.
The loss of Bieksa, who has four goals and 15 assists in 55 games this season, is also a significant blow. To take the 32-year-old’s place on the blue-line, the Canucks recalled defenceman Frank Corrado of the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets. The 20-year-old played six games for Vancouver earlier this season but has yet to register a point.
Meanwhile, Tortorella still has one game to go in his six-game suspension for trying to get into the Calgary Flames’ locker-room after that infamous first-period line brawl Jan. 18.
The fiery head coach, who had been on his best behaviour since coming to Vancouver prior to that incident, will sit out Friday game’s against the Winnipeg Jets before returning Monday against the Detroit Red Wings.
What he will find is a team with a 27-19-9 record that’s in a dogfight for one of the two Western Conference wild-card spots, a position the Canucks aren’t accustomed to after winning division titles five of the last six years.
“We have to be a resilient group. We understand the circumstance, everybody’s looking for the result,” said Sullivan. “Resilience and attitude is a big part of having success in this league, because inevitably, most teams go through adversity where they lose a few games or things don’t go their way, they hit the injury bug, whatever it may be—sometimes it’s all of the above.”
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