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Bad break for Thrashers, Kovalchuk out for a month

Monday, 10.26.2009 / 4:09 PM / News
The Atlanta Thrashers got a heaping helping of bad news Monday.

A CT Scan confirmed that forward Ilya Kovalchuk has a broken bone in his right foot and will be sidelined for four weeks.

 The injury occurred when Kovalchuk was struck by a puck during the first period of Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks.

Kovalchuk did not return after taking a puck off his foot midway through the first period. The Thrashers' captain, who began the game tied for the NHL lead with 9 goals, skated off the ice at the 8:43 mark of the first.

"He's going to the doctor, probably Monday morning, have it scanned and X-rayed to figure out what it is," Atlanta coach John Anderson said after the game.

Since joining the NHL in 2001-02, Kovalchuk is the only player to score at least 40 goals in each of the last five seasons. His total of 112 is the most of any player. That includes the 9 goals in eight games this season.

"Ilya was a slow starter in year's past and didn't pick it up until December," Anderson said. "I think the Olympic training camp he had before he came over here really gave him a boost. He was flying right from Day 1 of training camp and his whole attitude was really a bright spot for us so maybe that was the reason for his tremendous start this year. If it was the captaincy, well, he's still the captain and he can take it from here."

"I always hated to play against him, to be honest, but he's one of the best forwards in the League, that's for sure," former Maple Leaf and current Thrashers defenseman Pavel Kubina told NHL.com.

"When 'Kovy' came in, this was really a new team that was just starting, but he also produced good hockey by himself," longtime teammate Slava Kozlov said. "He could be quiet whole game and then score a hat trick in third period. He's so dynamic and I think, this year, with the addition of (Nik) Antropov, he has more help from other players and that'll put him in a very good position. He'll get lots of goals and lots of points, but the most important thing, he's helping the team win."

"If you watch him in practice, he's very selective with his shots," Kozlov said. "His wrist shot is very quick, so the goalie doesn't have a chance. When he's on a breakaway, he uses that wrist shot so effectively -- between the legs or high glove; it's so powerful."

Atlanta General Manager Don Waddell continues to work the phones with Jay Grossman, Kovalchuk's agent, to get his best player signed to a long-term deal. It has been reported by numerous outlets that Kovalchuk is weighing his options between staying in Atlanta or playing in Russia.

"You really can't control it," Waddell told Sporting News Today. "If you're competing against other NHL teams, it's one thing. If you're competing against another country paying whatever -- you can't. If his decision is to go play in Russia, I don't think we can do anything. There's only so much money you can pay."

Said Kovalchuk: "I got one year left and my agent and Don talk a lot. I just want to focus on hockey right now so when a decision is going to be done, it'll be done."ainst the San Jose Sharks.



Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins