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Senators News

Back surgery keeps Kuba on shelf

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators defenceman Filip Kuba underwent surgery Tuesday night in Los Angeles to repair a herniated disc in his back, which was caused by a hit the veteran blueliner took during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics (Getty Images photo).

The Ottawa Senators are being forced to move forward without one of their top blueliners.

Filip Kuba underwent surgery in Los Angeles on Tuesday night to repair a herniated disc in his back and Senators general manager Bryan Murray confirmed earlier today that the veteran defenceman will be sidelined for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"We suspect he's out for the next four weeks, at least," said Murray. "(It looks like) we certainly have to get into the second round, at this point in time, for him to be available to us at all. But let's hope that's the case and somewhere down the line, it would be a nice addition to have if we go deep into the playoffs."

Kuba, who's suited up only once in the last 16 games for the Senators, had tried rehabbing the injury, suffered during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. But in the end, the 33-year-old Czech Republic native decided surgery was necessary to relieve the pain in his lower back. Back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins performed the procedure.

"He was a little bit sore earlier in the year, but it looked like everything was fine," said Murray. "But (Kuba took) a hit in Olympics — from what he told me, in the game against Finland — and from that point on, he had a difficult time playing.

"The decision, at the end of the day, was that he was having a fair amount of pain that was a factor as far as a pinched nerve in his back. (Kuba) just felt that surgery was the right thing to do at this time. We have to look after our players and we decided to make sure that happened for him."

With Kuba on the shelf, the Senators will look toward Brian Lee as their seventh defenceman, behind the pairings of Chris Phillips-Anton Volchenkov, Andy Sutton-Erik Karlsson and Chris Campoli-Matt Carkner. Last year's top draft pick, Jared Cowen, is also with the team, now that his Spokane Chiefs have been eliminated from the Western Hockey League playoffs.

"We probably have one more recall from Binghamton that we'll make when their season is over," said Murray. "If they don't make the (American Hockey League) playoffs, that's easy. If they do make the playoffs, we'll just have callup as necessary.

"It's unfortunate for Filip because we like him and we think he adds a lot to our hockey team. But it's a fact (of life) in our business — you have to play without certain players because of injury and in this case, we have to play without him."

"We suspect he's out for the next four weeks, at least. (It looks like) we certainly have to get into the second round, at this point in time, for him to be available to us at all. But let's hope that's the case and somewhere down the line, it would be a nice addition to have if we go deep into the playoffs ... It's unfortunate for Filip because we like him and we think he adds a lot to our hockey team. But it's a fact (of life) in our business — you have to play without certain players because of injury and in this case, we have to play without him." " - Bryan Murray
Senators head coach Cory Clouston said he and his staff have been bracing themselves to move on without Kuba for awhile now, as each passed by with little in the way of signs of improvement in the defenceman's health.

"It's disappointing," Clouston said after the Senators practised earlier this afternoon in Tampa, Fla., where they'll face the Lightning on Thursday night (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200). "We were still keeping our fingers crossed that it wasn't going to have to come to this. But we've been playing without him for a long time and earlier this season, we played a big stretch without him.

"It would have just been a big bonus if he came back, the way we were looking at it. We've adjusted without him and we'll continue to do that. We're optimistic with what we've got here and we're still optimistic that Filip will be able to join us before the season is over."

Let's just say it's also fair to suggest this is a team with plenty of experience this season dealing with injuries to top players. At one point in January, the Senators went through a stretch of games without its entire first line of Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek but found a way to keep their heads above water.

"That's what we've preached all along, that when we have injuries during the season, it forces you to do different things and put guys in different situations," said Clouston. "Sometimes, you never know what's going to happen when injuries come. At least we've been in that situation before, where we have to adjust without (Kuba)."

Around the boards

The Senators are preparing to welcome Michalek back into the lineup against the Lightning, which will allow the speedy winger to see two games' worth of action before the Stanley Cup playoffs begin next week. "There's going to be a little rust (because of the injury layoff), but those two games are a bonus for him to get that rust out," said Clouston ... The second game is the regular-season home finale Saturday at Scotiabank Place against the Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200), when the Senators will pay tribute to Alfredsson's 1,000-game milestone, which he reached in Tuesday's 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.







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