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As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the Lightning announced today that goaltender Olaf Kolzig will probably miss the remainder of the regular season with a distal biceps tendon rupture in his left forearm. The exact time-table for recovery will be about 3-4 months. He will undergo a surgical procedure by Dr. Ben Shaffer in Washington on Saturday. Shaffer, a doctor for the Washington Capitals, has operated on Kolzig before. “Its not completely torn, but it is probably one shot way from it,” Kolzig said today. Lightning Head Athletic Trainer Tom Mulligan told the media today that the tendon isn’t completely ruptured, but anything more than 50 percent torn is considered to be ruptured. Mulligan likened the injury to that of New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur, but did say he didn’t know the full extent of the Devils net minder’s injury.
For those who haven’t been following the situation, Kolzig first felt some discomfort during a practice just before Christmas and consequently ended up on the IR. After a series of set-backs since then the team made the announcement today. Following Saturday’s procedure it will be about six weeks until he can fully test the range of motion and start doing some activity with the arm. It is a really unfortunate situation for Kolzig who weighed his options last season and decided to sign with the Lightning instead of retiring. The former Vezina Trophy winner is now left to wonder where he stands after this season, “My future in hockey is in doubt,” Kolzig said today. “I’d love to see [the Lightning] go on a run and come back in May to back up for a playoff game.” Rick Tocchet said today that he is a big fan of Kolzig, even from his playing days, and that he “hopes he keeps playing next year.”
Tocchet told Kolzig that he wants him around the team the rest of the way because of his attitude and his experience. He also said that him and Mike Smith have a strong relationship and it will help Smitty to still have him in the room. Most coaches usually try and keep the injured players away from the team, but I don’t think anyone would argue that Kolzig’s experience and leadership will benefit the team in the long run.
It is an unfortunate situation for one of the all-time great goaltenders in NHL history because he is also one of the great guys in the game. It isn’t right for him to possibly end his career on this note should he decide to, although he did show this season that he could still play. Case and point: December 11 at Montreal when he made 31 saves on 32 shots and helped the Lightning to a 3-1 win.
In related news, with Karri Ramo being slapped with a six-game suspension by the AHL, it appears likely the Lightning will recall Riku Helenius
from Norfolk to back-up tomorrow in Carolina. Tocchet said it will be a day-to-day thing as far as who the back-up will be.