VANCOUVER – With Sami Salo’s impending return to the Vancouver lineup, the Canucks are getting back one blue-liner just as they’re losing another.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault confirmed Friday that defenceman Dan Hamhuis will be out indefinitely after suffering a concussion on a blindside hit by Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks.
“(Hamhuis) had a concussion, so he is out until further notice,”said Vigneault.
Hamhuis is the third Canucks defenceman to go down with an injury recently. Keith Ballard suffered a strained knee Monday against Ottawa and he’ll miss approximately four weeks. Alex Edler, the team’s top defenceman, is sidelined until the playoffs after undergoing back surgery.
Salo, who has yet to play an NHL game this season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon while playing a form of floor hockey in the summer, will return Saturday against the visiting Calgary Flames.
Hamhuis was injured in the third period of Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Ducks when he was run into the end boards from behind by Getzlaf. He lay motionless on his back for about five minutes before leaving for the dressing room.
No penalty was called on the play.
Vigneault said Hamhuis will not resume activity until he is symptom-free and that he won’t speculate on how soon the 28-year-old could return. Hamhuis was Vancouver’s premier off-season free agent signing.
“A concussion is a concussion,”said Vigneault.“With (Sidney) Crosby here, everybody said it was a mild concussion and he’s been out ever since.”
The coach said the defenceman reported feeling“a little bit of head pressure”Thursday and again Friday morning.
While an apologetic Getzlaf says he didn’t intend to injure, Canucks defenceman Christian Ehrhoff labelled the check a bad hit and fellow Vancouver rearguard Kevin Bieksa called it a head shot.
Vigneault, however, is defending Getzlaf.
“I thought it was a good hit by a big player,”said Vigneault.“Dan (Hamhuis) was watching his pass and should have been trying to protect himself a little bit, because some guys finish hits. Some don’t.
“I mean, Hank and Danny (Sedin) are coming at you, maybe you can watch your pass. Getzlaf’s coming at you, you’ve got to have your head’s up.”
Salo, who completed a three-game conditioning stint in the AHL earlier in the week, said he was nervous before his first Manitoba Moose contest. He didn’t know what to expect, as his body and his leg still need to get better, but they are feeling good.
“It’s been a long wait and all the hard work and now, all of a sudden, the stuff that I’ve gone through, it’s all paying off right now,”said Salo, who has a history of freak injuries in his 11-plus seasons in Vancouver.
Salo said his layoff required patience and mental toughness, but he was confident that he could return after coming back from his previous injuries.
He praised his friends and family for their support and the Canucks for allowing him to go on road trips and be around his teammates when he was hurt.
“It’s not an easy road to go through,”said Salo.
“I’m real happy for Sami,”said Vigneault.“It’s been a long road to recoveryland here. Mentally and physically, it must have been real challenging for him. But you could tell on his face the last couple of days since he’s been back that he’s happy to be back.
“He wants this opportunity, and I think he’s worked himself back into great form.”
Meanwhile, in an unexpected move, the Canucks returned Cody Hodgson to the AHL. Hodgson had fared well on Vancouver’s fourth line, recording a goal and an assist.
Hodgson was battling his way back from a back injury that kept him out of most of his final season in 2009-10 and delayed his first full pro season.
“Definitely our whole organization, from the coaches to the management, thought that he was on the upswing,”said Vigneault.“But we also felt that he needs to play. He had about seven or eight minutes here of ice time, so he’s going to go down to Manitoba … he’s going to play close to 20 minutes a game (there).”
Notes: Winger Victor Oreskovich is expected to make his debut with the Canucks against Calgary. He was acquired in an off-season trade from Florida and will replace winger Aaron Volpatti, who was returned to Manitoba earlier this week.