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Thrashers rookie Cormier breaks foot

by John Manasso /
DULUTH, Ga., -- Two days before the start of training camp, Thrashers rookie forward Patrice Cormier, who was expected to have a strong chance of making the team, broke his foot and is out indefinitely.

Cormier, a second-round pick in 2008 who once captained Canada's World Junior team, suffered the injury blocking a shot by defenseman Paul Postma late in a game on the final day of prospect camp with his side trailing by three goals.

"Obviously, it's a pretty big blow, but it's not the end of the world," said Cormier, a 20-year-old who was part of the haul Atlanta received from New Jersey in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade. "It's just a bump in the road."

For Atlanta, the injury was reminiscent of the 2006 training camp when 2003 first-rounder Braydon Coburn separated his shoulder and missed the first few months of the season. The injury makes Cormier's road to earn a spot on the team that much harder. Instead of being able to earn his way through practices and drills and preseason games, he almost assuredly will have to go to the Thrashers' AHL affiliate in Chicago and attempt to earn his way to the parent club through his performance there.

"I would imagine," Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said of Cormier's need to start the season in Chicago. "You're not going to come back -- it's tough enough for a veteran player coming back from injury just to jump back on the ice and play. So, again, that learning curve we can shorten it but we can't end it."

On Saturday, he was wearing a cast around his right foot and lower leg and walking around on crutches. How long he will be out depends on the severity of the break. Kovalchuk broke his foot when he was playing for the Thrashers last year and missed about three weeks. Evander Kane had a broken foot at the end of the season and missed 16 games.

Cormier said he hopes to be back on the ice optimistically in about two weeks -- but perhaps more realistically by the middle of next month.

"It's bad timing, but at least it's at the start of camp and not 10 games into the season," he said. "Hopefully in the end of September, middle of October. I keep saying in that my head but maybe it's going to be different. We'll see. We'll take it day by day it's the only thing we can do."

He said had not even talked to the Thrashers coaching staff or management yet to find out what the next course of action would be. Regardless, he said if he had to do it all over again, he would.

To some, it's an example of the kind of player – willing to sacrifice his body for the betterment of the team – that he will be in the NHL.

"If I would've stayed up and not tried to block the shot, maybe a lot of people would've had questions in their heads," he said. "That's what I have to do, I guess, and for me it was a little bad luck. Seventy or 80 percent, it's a blocked shot and you're all right but it happened and we'll move on."

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