Oft-injured New York Islanders defenceman Radek Martinek is out for the season with a knee injury.
The 33-year-old Martinek tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Friday night in the third period of a 2-1 loss at New Jersey, the Islanders said on Saturday.
Martinek was helped off the ice with about 5:45 to play after he was hit hard against the boards in front of the Devils bench by Zach Parise.
“To me, he’s one of the best kept secrets in the NHL as far as what he brings to the table,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. “His ability to play huge minutes, his ability with the skating, to defend, to get back when he is up in the rush. At times, he can be a one-man breakout. He’s got a great stick.”
The Islanders will also be without captain Doug Weight when they host Atlanta on Saturday night. The 38-year-old centre is expected to miss a week after sustaining an undisclosed upper body injury.
Weight has played in only 11 of New York’s 16 games because of an early season groin injury and a bout with swine flu.
Martinek, in his eighth NHL season, played in only 51 games last season – missing 17 straight after hurting a shoulder. A bruised right leg forced him to sit out 13 games during the 2007-08 season.
In the season before that, Martinek broke his leg and didn’t play the final 30 games. His rookie year of 2001-02 was limited to 23 games because of a season-ending knee injury.
Martinek, who has played as many as 70 games in a season only once, had two goals and one assist this season. He was in the lineup for each of New York’s first 16 contests.
“He’s just a huge loss for us,” Gordon said. “I spoke to him today. I feel so bad for him because he was really playing well. He was doing a great job of playing against the other teams’ top lines. It’s a huge hole for us.”
Veteran defenceman Freddy Meyer will take Martinek’s place in the lineup.
“It’s got to be done as a group,” Gordon said.