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Mantha to miss 6-8 weeks with fractured tibia

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Anthony Mantha, who was injured in Monday's Prospects Tournament, will miss the next 6-8 weeks with a fractured right tibia. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

TRAVERSE CITY – Training camp hasn’t started and the Red Wings have already been dealt a major setback when they learned Thursday that top prospect Anthony Mantha will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks after fracturing his right tibia earlier this week.

The Red Wings are coming off an unprecedented season that show them hobble through 408 man games lost to injury, including significant injuries to Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss and Jonathan Ericsson.

“It’s like what we’ve gone through in the past,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “It is what it is and there’s opportunity for other people.”

A silver lining to Mantha’s injury is that he doesn’t need surgery, only time to heal.

Heading into this week, the plan was to give Mantha – the team’s first-round draft pick in 2013 – every chance in training camp and throughout the exhibition season to make the Red Wings’ opening-night roster.

“Obviously, it’s bad luck, it’s a bad loss,” Holland said. “We were looking forward to seeing him in training camp and giving him an opportunity to compete for a spot on our team, but games go on and we have to find a way. We have to find solutions.”

Mantha, who turned 20 years old on Tuesday, was injured Monday in an NHL Prospects Tournament game at Centre ICE Arena when his right skate caught a rut during the first period against the Minnesota Wild.

“The puck was in the corner and I turned to my right at center ice,” said Mantha, who was supported by crutches as he spoke to reporters outside of Centre ICE Arena on Thursday. “I hit a crack at center ice and my foot came back and to the left. At the same time, me and guy from the other team bumped into each other so my knee probably went sideways. It happened so fast you can’t exactly know what happened.”

Though he finished the game the severity of Mantha’s leg injury wasn’t known until team doctors arrived here Thursday for scheduled player physicals.

“I seriously didn’t think it was that serious,” Mantha said. “Obviously if I would have known, I would have stopped playing and not taken the chance of getting it worse.”

However, an MRI taken Wednesday revealed a different story.

“He went to bed (Monday), woke up the next day and his knee was swollen, so we did some tests yesterday and I was in there with the doctor and Anthony just now,” Holland said. “They showed us the fracture on the pictures. He’s going to be in crutches for a while, take the weight off. We think somewhere around six weeks he should be back up and running and skating and from then playing.”

For the past two seasons, Mantha has dominated junior hockey in Canada, leading the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in goal scoring, producing 107 goals and 209 points in 124 regular-seasons games for the Val-d'Or Foreurs. Last season, Mantha was named CHL’s Player of the Year following his 120-point campaign that included a run at the Memorial Cup in London.

The Red Wings have 19 forwards with at least some NHL experience in camp, and that doesn’t include veteran Daniel Alfredsson, whose future with the club is in limbo after he reinjured his lower back while skating in voluntary practices at Joe Louis Arena more than a week ago.

“In the meantime,” Holland said, “we got lots of other people looking for opportunity.”

The injury is untimely for Mantha who is making his pro debut this season, whether that’s with the Red Wings or their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. While Thursday’s news was disappointing, Mantha’s spirits remain high.

“It’s pretty hard but if everything goes well and I come back to my capabilities, if I do the right thing, they’re probably going to give me my chances anyways,” he said. “I’ll build off that and come back as soon as I can.”

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