DENVER -- Kevin Shattenkirk has been playing through a meniscus tear in his left knee for nearly the entire season, and on Friday it was decided he could do so no more, opting for surgery on Monday that will sideline him indefinitely.
"It's something I've had all season and been trying to play through," Shattenkirk told reporters on Friday. "It's come to a point now, looking at all the options and trying to stick it out and make it through the season, with the way it's kind of been going, I think it's the right time to get the surgery and handle it, take care of it before it becomes something that we don't want to do later on down the line in the season that would put me out for a crucial part of the season."
Shattenkirk said he first began feeling discomfort in late September and into early October, which was treated with a cortisone shot. The hope was the injury would remedy itself, but that has not been the case.
The blueliner said the "x-factor" in his decision to shut down was the injury's impact on his ability to train off the ice, which in turn is limiting his productivity on the ice.
"I feel like because of it, my left leg is starting to get a lot weaker," Shattenkirk said. "Not allowing me to play my game and have the escapability and the explosiveness in my skating that I think anyone will tell you is a big part of my game. I feel like recently, it's been something that's really been glaring."
The frustration and disappointment was evident for Shattenkirk, who is in the first year of a long-term contract with the Rangers, the team he grew up following from nearby New Rochelle.
"It's tough. I think thinking about this year, you want everything to go perfectly," he said. "I think I've been trying to battle through this for a lot of reasons. When it came down to it, today and we talked about it, you have to think about yourself. I've been worried about a lot more things, trying to not to disappoint a lot of people, and I think I'm included in that."
Coach Alain Vigneault said while the loss of Shattenkirk is big for the Rangers, it's an opportunity for someone else, including the newly recalled Tony DeAngelo, to take on a larger role in Shattenkirk's absence.
The 22-year-old offensive defenseman had a pair of goals and 11 assists in 29 games with the Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League after starting the year in New York. Vigneault said Hartford's head coach Keith McCambridge praised the former first-round pick's recent play.
"I talked to Keith this morning and he said the last couple weeks he's been very solid, very solid in moving the puck out of his end and good on the power play," he said. "He felt at this time, he was probably playing his best hockey since he's been in Hartford."
DeAngelo spent eight games in New York at the start of the year during which he registered an assist. He said he's hoping to make an impact in any role the coaching staff asks him to fill.
"Just looking forward to hopefully getting back in there and making an impact," DeAngelo said. "Whatever they want me to do. I'm just going to try and go in there and [have] a good game each night that I get a chance to play. Move pucks and contribute offensively, hopefully. That's what I've got to try and do."