UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The last 48 hours have been extremely difficult for Matt Moulson, but the New York Islanders forward cheered up a bit on Sunday following a phone conversation with an injured teammate.
"I talked to Mark yesterday," Moulson said of Mark Streit, who suffered a severe shoulder injury following a collision with Moulson at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum during a scrimmage on Saturday morning. "I think I kind of replayed what happened in my head probably a million times. Obviously, I feel horrible about what happened. But I don't think I could have done anything differently. I didn't hit him or anything. It was kind of a freak play."
Nobody knew the severity of Streit's injury -- Newsday reported that it's a torn labrum and rotator cuff that will require surgery -- until Sunday, but Moulson had a pretty good idea of visiting Streit in the trainer's room after Saturday's scrimmage.
An alternate captain and undoubtedly the team's No. 1 defenseman, the Islanders are now forced to play nearly the entire season without Streit. The 32-year-old had 11 goals and 38 assists for the Isles in 2009-10, when he averaged 25:41 of ice time per game.
"Seeing him in that kind of pain … I came in to see him when he was in the training room, it makes your stomach turn a little bit," Moulson said. "Streiter is probably one of the top 'D' in the League. It's just one of those things. It's obviously very unfortunate for him and this team.
"I don't know if there's anyone in the League who has had as much responsibility as Mark has had on this team the last couple of years. It's going to take everyone to step up to try and kind of fill that hole. He's a big part of our team playing the minutes he does -- he's the quarterback on the power play and he's phenomenal on the penalty kill. It's not like he had one role on this team. He is our MVP. It's going to be a tough challenge, but it's something we have to face together."
Isles coach Scott Gordon certainly knows Moulson was not to blame for what happened. Moulson had one hand on his stick and the time that contact was made as Streit lost his edge and went into the boards.
"It wasn't even a cross-check; it was a free hand," Gordon said. "That same thing could have happened three times on just one play, and it didn't happen. That's just bad luck for everybody and real bad luck for Mark. He looked good. He's certainly a big hole for us that we have to fill."
Moulson admitted he was afraid of Streit's reaction when he reached out to the latter on Sunday, but was relieved when Streit absolved him of any wrongdoing.
"I was just hoping he wouldn't say, 'What the heck are you doing?'" Moulson said. "We talked about it and he said, 'Don't worry about it. It completely wasn't your fault.' It's good to hear. I try not to blame myself on something like that. It is the game of hockey and things happen. But anytime you're involved with anything with a teammate or any player and that kind of severity happens, it's tough to deal with. The last couple of days, I've been having a hard time. But talking to him helped me a little bit."
Moulson and the Isles begin the 2010-11 season on Oct. 9 against the Dallas Stars on Long Island. While there's a chance GM Garth Snow might make a move to help ease the blow of Streit's absence, New York is forced to move forward either way.
For Moulson, that's easier said than done.
"You look back at it say, 'How does that happen on something like that?'" Moulson said. "I don't know how exactly he went into the boards. But if you're put in that scenario 100 times, maybe it happens 1 out of 100. It's just something that you can't really control."
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