It seems like every injury the Hurricanes have suffered this season has been significant. Losing a player who ranks fifth in the NHL in total ice time for 8-12 weeks certainly qualifies.
That’s how long key defenseman Joe Corvo will be sidelined after his lower leg was cut by the skate of Washington’s Karl Alzner in the first period of Friday’s 3-2 loss – the second time in a month that a key Hurricanes player has been significantly injured in such a way. Corvo underwent successful surgery later that night and is not expected to experience any negative long-term affects on his skating.
“You don’t completely replace him,” said General Manager Jim Rutherford. “We’ve struggled and a lot of guys have not played up to their potential, but he’s one guy that has played very well for us. He plays a lot of minutes, he does a lot of good things and he’s a real good player. We’re going to miss a good player at a time when we need every player we can get.”
Rutherford said that the Hurricanes will place Corvo on long-term injured reserve, meaning that his salary will not count against the cap until he is able to return. Players are not eligible to come off long-term injured reserve until 10 games or 24 days have passed since the injury, which should occur well within Corvo's prognosis.
The injury leaves Carolina with only five healthy defensemen on the roster, which will lead the team to recall a player from Albany of the AHL later this week, likely on Thursday or Friday. Rutherford said that the recalled player would probably be one of Brett Carson, Jay Harrison or Bryan Rodney, all of whom have some NHL experience.
“We rely a lot on [Albany Head Coach] Jeff Daniels when we recall players,” said Rutherford. “He’s the guy that’s with these guys every day and he makes the recommendation.”
The outlook was better for a number of other Hurricanes players. Tim Gleason appeared to have suffered a serious injury of his own following a knee-on-knee hit with the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin on Monday, but was able to return quickly.
“When things are so bad, you look for positive things,” said Rutherford, whose team is now on a five-game losing skid. “I can’t speak enough about his character. There’s a guy that really got hit hard and could have easily shut it down for the night or a little while longer, but he was back in no time. Not only did he come back, he played extremely well. Those are the guys you ultimately need to win.”
Ovechkin earned a five-minute major for kneeing and his second game misconduct in three games after the play, during which he was also injured and did not return. The Washington star could possibly earn a suspension from the NHL.
“It was a bad hit. There’s nothing hidden here,” said Rutherford. “The referee called it as he saw it, now Ovechkin is hurt and it’s unfortunate. Things happen so fast on the ice, and in this case he reacted to in a way that he shouldn’t have. It’s really unfortunate for this league to lose a player like Ovechkin.”
Rutherford said that Saturday’s game against Vancouver is still a possible return date for goaltender Cam Ward, who has begun skating with Assistant Coach Tom Barrasso. Ward may also wait until the following four-game road trip to re-enter the lineup.
Rounding out the injury report, Rutherford said that Chad LaRose and Scott Walker are close to returning. Walker practiced with the team on Monday, while LaRose has been out since last Friday’s Atlanta game.