It’s not as if the newly minted inter-conference rivalry between the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs needed any more fuel added to an already blazing fire, but the flames may have been stoked with an injury to Jannik Hansen.
Vancouver announced Thursday that Hansen, 30, will be out for the next 4-6 weeks with a fractured rib, and in an interview with TSN 1040, Canucks president Trevor Linden said he’s near certain that the injury came as a result of the open-ice collision between Hansen and Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly, which was one of the hits that sparked tempers in this past Saturday’s fight-filled game.
“Jannik has a fractured rib, so he’s going to be (out) four to six weeks,” Linden said, via TSN 1040. “That’s tough. He’s a guy that brings a lot of speed to our group, he’s got great versatility, obviously, so that’s a tough loss for us…I’m not 100 percent. I’m 90 percent certain that (the Rielly hit) is where it happened.”
The hit in question occurs just seconds into the video below, and it’s not hard to see why the collision has sidelined Hansen. The power of the hit sent Hansen airborne and the way he makes contact with the ice after the hit is awkward and forceful:
Hansen was right there, scrapping with Nazem Kadri, after his controversial but ultimately legal hit on Daniel Sedin, but Hansen left the game following the tilt and it was believed he had suffered a shoulder injury. Obviously, that wasn’t the case.
The timeline for Hansen’s return has to be incredibly hard for the Canucks to stomach, especially given the current state of the club. Vancouver has lost 10 of its past 11 games, the team has been stunted offensively and defensively they’ve been leaky.
As Linden pointed out, Hansen’s versatility is one of the key attributes that makes him an important part of the club, and his two-way play is one of the main reasons he has become such a key contributor in Vancouver over the past few seasons. Offensively, losing Hansen means the Canucks will be without their fourth-highest scorer — he has two goals and six points in 12 games — and defensively it signals the loss of a key penalty killer, as only Alexandre Burrows and Brandon Sutter average more time on ice among forwards when Vancouver’s shorthanded.
The injury also really hamstrings a roster that isn’t all that deep to begin with. With Hansen out, the Canucks’ fourth line consisted of Brendan Gaunce, Michael Chaput and Jack Skille on Thursday night against the Red Wings, and Derek Dorsett skated on the second line. That’s Dorsett, he of 44 career goals in nearly 500 games, by the way.
A four-week timeline for return means Hansen, who has already missed three games, could be out another 10 games, and the full six weeks could see him miss close to 20 outings. That all depends on how his recovery goes.
It all but certainly means he’ll miss the Dec. 3 rematch against the Maple Leafs, though. But that might be for the best given that game is likely to be as chippy as the modern game gets.
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