Defenseman Joe Corvo’s season took a terrifying turn on Nov. 30. Playing with the Carolina Hurricanes early in his seventh NHL season, Corvo and Washington defenseman Karl Alzner
got entangled in front of the benches, and Alzner’s skate sliced Corvo’s calf. Corvo, who led the Canes in average ice time per game at 26:27 a night at the time, was hauled to the hospital for repairs after skating just 2:42 in the game vs. the Capitals.
Corvo had scored the game’s first goal on a nifty move and subsequent backhand roof job, but his night was over less than a minute later. The injury raised immediate concern on both benches that night.
“I’m concerned about Corvo’s injury,” said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau after the game that night. “It looked like he hurt his leg pretty bad. I coached him for four years, so I’m a little concerned about him.”
Surgery and more than 100 stitches were required to repair the wound. The skate that sliced Corvo’s calf also took a two-month slice out of the rearguard’s 2009-10 season, and left him at less than top level when he did return to the lineup in February.
Carolina’s season got off to an excruciatingly slow start, confronting the Canes with a serious uphill climb in the Eastern Conference standings the rest of the way. Playing in the final season of a four-year deal he signed with the Ottawa Senators in July, 2006, the offensive-minded Corvo became an attractive trade chip for the Canes as the March 3 NHL trade deadline drew near.
Washington put forth the best offer, sending blueliner Brian Pothier, prospect Oskar Osala and a second-round Entry Draft selection to bring Corvo to the District.
Reunited with his former minor league coach, Corvo’s offensive style figured to be a good match with the Caps’ system.
“It’s a little bit shocking, because it’s more run and gun,” said Corvo after playing his first game with the Capitals. “You’ve got to sit back a little bit more and let the puckhandlers do their job.”
“He’s a good player,” noted Boudreau after the deal. “Carolina went to the [conference] finals last year and he played 26-30 minutes every night. He was the top defenseman on that team and when he missed 30 games this year, it was in the middle of them not playing very well.
“We’ve got a good player, a good puckmoving defensemen. And you can’t beat a good puckmoving defenseman with the forwards we can throw at you.”
With Carolina, Corvo skated 20 or more minutes in all 34 games in which he played, with the exception of that Nov. 30 game in which he suffered the calf injury. With Washington, Corvo skated 20 or more minutes in just half of his 18 regular season games. After logging an average of 25:13 per night with the Hurricanes, Corvo’s ice time dipped to 19:41 with the Capitals.
One spring after skating an average of 25:27 in 18 playoff contests for Carolina, Corvo worked just 16:53 a night in seven postseason tilts with the Capitals. He finished the season with a total of six goals and 18 points along with a minus-10 in 52 games in 2009-10. Corvo’s average of .35 points per game in ’09-10 was his lowest since his rookie season of 2002-03 with Los Angeles.
After averaging better than two shots on goal per game in each of his previous five NHL seasons and in the 34 games he played with the Canes in 2009-10, Corvo launched just 23 shots on goal in his 18 regular season games with Washington. He scored twice, with both of those goals coming in the same March 18 game at Carolina against his former Hurricanes teammates.
Corvo had 21 shots in seven postseason games – including 10 in Game 6 at Montreal – and he scored once, netting Washington’s first goal of the postseason.
A veteran of 486 regular season NHL games, Corvo will celebrate his 33rd birthday on June 20 and will become an unrestricted free agent 11 days later.