St. Louis team president John Davidson called it a curve ball, but it probably feels more like a fastball to the groin.
News that Erik Johnson will likely miss the entire season with torn knee ligaments sustained while driving a golf cart during a team golf outing (sound fishy to anyone else?) is not the way Davidson wanted to kick-off training camp.
It’s not so much Johnson was going to win the Norris Trophy en route to pushing the Blues back into the playoffs this year; it’s the day that scenario does play out just got further away.
Everybody knows defensemen take longer to acclimatize themselves to the league. Johnson had his ups and downs as a rookie last season, but the big, likeable 20-year-old was on the right path for progression as a sophomore.
Johnson is expected to make a full recovery and if he was going to develop into a Norris-caliber blueliner before the injury, this setback won’t alter his long-term path.
It will, however, require even more patience from a Blues fan base already being asked for some perspective. After all, Johnson went No. 1 overall in 2006, on the heels of Alex Ovechkin in ’04 and Sidney Crosby in ’05. Another offensive dynamo, Patrick Kane, went first overall in 2007, while this year’s top pick, Steven Stamkos, looks like he’ll light it up in Tampa.
For St. Louis supporters, the run of recent No. 1 picks plays out a bit like two brothers getting hand outs from mom and dad. One gets a crisp $100 bill, while the other is told his parents have started a savings account in his name and are going to make monthly contributions of $10. That account is going to pay off over time, but it doesn’t carry the same immediate wow factor of a fresh C-note.
Perhaps some of St. Louis’ other young prospects can help the locals maintain interest.
The Mitchell Report
Think you need a calendar to tell you what time of year it is? Well, it certainly can’t be spring when teams are discussing injuries in such acute detail you wince a little while reading the press release.
Consider this item that landed in my inbox earlier this week from the San Jose Sharks regarding the status of Torrey Mitchell:
Sharks center Torrey Mitchell sustained a complete non-displaced Tibia/Fibula fracture (two lower leg bones) in a practice session this morning according to Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson. The injury is commonly known as a Tib-Fib or Boot Top fracture.
Team Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Arthur Ting will perform a surgical procedure this evening to repair the injury.
The time frame for Mitchell’s return to the ice is approximately eight weeks.
What, no word on whether he takes milk or cream in his coffee?
In September, you get the official and layman’s term for the injury, plus the name of the doctor who will attempt to fix it and a fairly exact timeline for the player’s return.
In April, ask anyone associated with an NHL team about injuries and you’re liable to end up with a painful case of tape-recorder-up-the-rear syndrome.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog normally appears Thursdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears every Wednesday.
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