DETROIT – Pavel Datsyuk is expected to miss approximately 4-5 weeks with a shoulder injury suffered in Monday’s preseason-opening win at Pittsburgh.
General manager Ken Holland told MLive that an MRI of Datsyuk’s right shoulder showed a second-degree separation.
Datsyuk will miss the start of the NHL season for the first time in his 13-season career. He could be sidelined for the first 8-9 games of the regular season.
Datsyuk’s injury is a major setback for the Red Wings who dealt with an incredible 408 man games lost last season. Despite the adversity, Detroit managed to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs for a 23rd consecutive year, the longest such streak in North America’s four major pro sports leagues.
The superstar center was injured when he was driven into the boards by Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi with 5:31 left in regulation. As Datsyuk skated into the offensive zone he was taken into the rounded glass at the end of Pittsburgh’s bench.
On Tuesday, Wings coach Mike Babcock down played Datsyuk’s injury, but that was before he returned to Detroit for tests.
“I think (Monday) night they thought it was pretty serious,” Babcock said. “He’ll get checked out and we’ll know more, but I’m not as worried as I was (Monday) night.”
Datsyuk missed 37 regular-season games last season with a concussion followed by a persistent left knee injury that affected his mobility after the Winter Olympics in Russia. His 45 games played is the fewest number of games in his NHL career, and the 37 points is the lowest since his rookie year in 2001-02.
Datsyuk leads all current Red Wings in games played (824), assists (532), points (804) and plus/minus rating (+230).
Datsyuk is the second Red Wings’ player injured this month, and the future of Daniel Alfredsson still hangs in the balance as the veteran forward deals with a problematic lower back that is causing nerve pain in the lower extremities. Alfredsson did not attend the team’s six-day training camp in Traverse City.
Prospect Anthony Mantha suffered a fractured right tibia in the NHL Prospects Tournament last week in Traverse City. The two-time scoring leader in the QMJHL had a legitimate shot at making the Red Wings’ opening-night roster.
Mantha, 20, is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks.
Fortunately, depth at the center position is one of the Wings’ strengths with Henrik Zetterberg, Stephen Weiss, Riley Sheahan, Joakim Andersson and Luke Glendening all health. Darren Helm and Johan Franzen can also play in the middle.
Helm (broken nose) and defenseman Ryan Sproul (soreness) are day-to-day and not expected to play Thursday against Chicago when the Red Wings open the home portion of the exhibition season.