addressed the media on Friday morning, it was to express his disappointment over the news he would miss the remainder of the Islanders season with a right hip labral tear. The Islanders defenseman had been playing through discomfort for the past few months, but was hoping he’d be able to work through the pain to help his teammates get to the postseason.
“It’s been bugging me for a bit now,” MacDonald said. “I was just trying to play out the rest of the year and hopefully have some kind of last minute run at the playoffs. The way the year has kind of ended here, we thought it was the best decision to get (surgery) done now and be prepared for next season.”
Realizing the team’s chances at making playoffs, and putting MacDonald’s health as well as recovery time into account, management decided the best thing for the Isles blue-liner would be to miss the remainder of the season (seven games).
|Andrew MacDonald #47 of the New York Islanders skates with the puck against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center on March 19, 2011 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) |
“He is in some pain, and it’s not just normal pain, it’s restricting him and hurting him,” interim head coach Jack Capuano said. “The last thing that we want to do is put a player in a situation where he can hurt himself even more. We’re not going to do that with Andrew, or any of our players.”
Not only did the blue-liner lead the Islanders defensemen in time-on-ice this season, but he also posted career bests in all categories. In 60 games, he recorded 4 goals and 23 assists for 27 points, a +9 rating, one power play goal and one game winning goal.
“He had a terrific year,” Capuano said. “He was a leader for our hockey team. He played through a lot of pain. He was definitely a warrior for us and I respect everything that he did. It’s just time now that he needs to get it (surgery) done.”
MacDonald said he was happy with the responsibility with which he was entrusted.
“After we traded Wiz (James Wisniewski), I was asked to step into a bigger role,” MacDonald said. “I just tried to fill that void the best I could. I think as the year went on, I got a lot more confidence and realized I was capable of putting points up at this level. Being able to contribute at both ends of the ice is something that I’ve really appreciated the opportunity. I’m looking forward to next season as something to build on.”
Clearly disappointed he will not be able to finish his first full season in the National Hockey League, the Judique, Nova Scotia native is at least happy his prognosis is positive. MacDonald said his recovery should have him back skating by the time the Islanders hold training camp this fall.
After we traded Wiz (James Wisniewski), I was asked to step into a bigger role. I just tried to fill that void the best I could. I think as the year went on, I got a lot more confidence and realized I was capable of putting points up at this level. - Andrew MacDonald
“It’s not going to carry over into next season,” MacDonald said. “It’s nothing like that. It’s similar to Motts (Mike Mottau) and Eats (Mark Eaton
). I’ll be in walking crutches for six to eight weeks and then I’ll start my rehab with strength. So it will be three months or so (of recovery time). So it’s not going to really even step into my summer.”
But for the last seven games, the Islanders will be down one of their most valued defensemen, who at just 24-years-old, has put up top minutes on the blue line as well as taken on a leadership role.
His defensive partner, rookie Travis Hamonic
, said how much MacDonald has helped him grow.
“For myself, personally, I think he’s done a great job in helping me along,” Hamonic said. “We have really good chemistry on and off the ice, and I think that really translates to our play on the ice and how we feed off each other. I think we’ve done a great job this season trying to grow as players. Both of us, we’re two young guys really coming into this league. I think we’ve done a really good job.”
More than that, his teammates talked about the depth MacDonald adds to the Islanders defensive core, but said they’re a resilient bunch who has dealt with bad luck all season and are not going to let this get in the way from finishing strong.
“AMac (MacDonald) is a great player and it’s tough to replace a guy like that, just like (Mark) Streit earlier in the year,” Hillen said. “You can’t really replace him. You can’t be anybody else but yourself out there. You can only play your game and keep moving forward.”
As the Islanders try to finish the season strong, Hamonic said MacDonald will be there every step of the way, cheering his teammates on.
“He’s got one of those winning personalities,” Hamonic said. “He’s a high character guy and really likes to win. It’s going to be tough for him to miss these games because he’s definitely been battling for the last little while. That’s a lot of leadership that we’re probably going to lose here, but everybody’s got to step up. We’re going to be all right.”