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Raymond Sidelined with MCL Sprain

by Daniel Bordignon / Vancouver Canucks
The silver lining is that it is only a sprain.

Mason Raymond will remain out of the Canuck line-up for at least four weeks recovering from a second-degree sprained MCL that was incurred March 17 at GM Place in a contest against the Phoenix Coyotes.

With 13 minutes left in the third period, Raymond attempted to gain the offensive zone by skating in between his opponent and the side boards. Keith Ballard, the Phoenix defenceman, appeared to be trying to land a hip check on the speedy Vancouver forward, but once he realized that he was beat stuck out his knee and leveled Raymond with a vicious knee-on-knee collision. The blow sent Raymond toppling over at the blueline, right in front of the visitor's bench. The Canuck rookie would have to be helped off the ice and obviously did not return.

There was no penalty called on the play which incensed Coach Alain Vigneault who, in a post game conference, called the hit nothing short of dirty and said that the Canucks will be lobbying to have the league review the incident.

Genial Manager Dave Nonis texted the league immediately following the competition voicing his concern, but no disciplinary action will be taken against Keith Ballard or the Phoenix Coyotes.

The issue of whether or not the hit was clean is not an issue to Raymond who insists that he has more important things to be concerned about.

"I'm already looking forward to getting back on the ice," said the Vancouver rookie. "I haven't had a look at the hit. It's something the league will look at. I need to focus on getting healthy and training. I hope to be back as soon as possible."

Raymond will start a four-week rehabilitation program that will work to ease the pain and re-strengthen the injured area as soon as possible. This is new territory for the 6’0” Alberta native who has not experienced a serious injury of this magnitude in his professional career.

"I've never really had an injury like this so it's a little disappointing but I'm getting past that stage already. I got to focus on getting better and getting healthy by spending some time with the trainers and getting back as soon as possible," said Raymond. "Obviously it's a fun time of year to play so I'm looking forward to getting back hopefully in the first round. The rehab starts [immediately], the first day is everything."

In lieu of Raymond's injury, it is expected that Ryan Shannon will draw back in to the Vancouver line-up.

"You never want to get an opportunity in that way, because of an injury, but it's my job to fill whatever role they give me," said Shannon who suffered his own MCL injury in the past. "If I can contribute offensively, like he was, and pick up where he left off I think that will help the team."

 The untimely and unfortunate injury ends Raymond's surprisingly impressive rookie campaign. After having a disappointing first month with the team and failing to live up to the hype and expectation that was built throughout training camp, Raymond was sent down to the Manitoba Moose where he would remain for the month of November.

Raymond looked at the re-assignment as an opportunity to fine tune his craft to the extent that he would warrant consideration to be re-called by the Canucks. The 23-year-old speedster made the most of his time in Manitoba tallying a total of 17 points (7-10-17) in just 20 games, including a five point outing in which he would record a hat-trick and two assists.

The steady stream of offensive production and hard work earned Raymond another shot with the big club as he was recalled December 12, 2007 for a game against the Anaheim Ducks. In that game Raymond would net his first NHL goal and begin a campaign that would earn the young forward a permanent spot in the Canuck roster.

In just 40 games since being recalled, Raymond has recorded nine goals and eleven assists as one of Vancouver’s more offensively gifted players.

9 - Total amount of goals scored this season

  12 - Total amount of assists recorded this year

21 - Total amount of points scored in his rookie campaign

49 - Games played this year with the Canucks

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