|Senators head coach Cory Clouston sees the injury absence of veteran Filip Kuba as an opportunity for some of the organization's younger prospects to help fill the void (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).
For the second straight year, the Ottawa Senators must contemplate an October without one of their top defencemen.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray confirmed today that Filip Kuba
suffered a broken right leg during Saturday's opening session of training camp and will be sidelined for at least "five to six weeks minimum." Surgery isn't required at the moment -- Murray called it a "clean break" -- though Kuba's status is to be re-evaluated on Thursday.
"We're real disappointed for Filip," Murray said at the Bell Sensplex, where the Senators held Day 2 of training camp. "He looked great in the couple of days I came over (to the Bell Sensplex) and watched him skate. I know he's frustrated that (the injury) would happen but I guess if it's going to happen, it's better to happen early and if he gets it out of the way, then he comes back and has a great season.
"It does open the door for one of the kids to get more ice time, particularly in pre-season, and somebody hopefully will emerge and be a good player for us."
Kuba, who saw his 2009-10 season cut short by surgery in April to repair a herniated disc in his back, was despondent after he received his prognosis from doctors.
"The coaches saw him and they told me he was very, very down afterward," said Murray. "But then I guess he realized, like everybody, that things happen and that’s our sport. I think in a day or two he’ll be a little more positive. He’ll just have to go through the therapy and get ready to play again."
It had to be especially frustrating for Kuba, who has once again seen the start of his season delayed by injury. A year ago, the Czech blueliner suffered an upper body in the Senators' opener in New York against the Rangers and was sidelined for nearly four weeks, missing eight games. He would only play 53 games last season, the lowest total of his career.
"We're disappointed, the team is, just for him," said Senators head coach Cory Clouston. "(Kuba) had to struggle with injuries last year. I guess the only positive thing is that, as of right now, he doesn't need surgery. Even if he did, we're still looking at him missing only five or six weeks. If you're going to have an injury, you want to have it now so you don't miss as many regular-season games."
"It's a horrible break, the way it happened. (Kuba) has been through a lot and it's real tough. But that's why we're a team. We're going to pick each other up when we're down and it's an opportunity. We're deep on the blue line and there are guys that have something to prove. We've got to go out there and fill the void. There's opportunities now for guys to make the team that maybe would have had a tough time because of the numbers." - Chris Campoli
Kuba's latest mishap occurred Saturday afternoon, when he a caught a rut in the fresh ice at Scotiabank Place. The veteran defenceman struggled to get off the ice, barely putting weight on his right leg.
"He did get caught in a rut and all the weight, as he turned, was on one leg and he got a fracture because of it," said Murray. "It's just one of those things that happens sometimes. It's certainly disappointing for a veteran player that had prepared himself to come back after surgery. And then for this to happen."
Now the attention shifts to filling a big vacancy on the Ottawa blue line for at least the first month of the 2010-11 season. Fortunately for the Senators, there is a lot of organizational depth on the back end, with the likes of Brian Lee, Jared Cowen
and Patrick Wiercioch
likely first in line for a bigger opportunity.
"There are a couple of defencemen (for whom) it's an opportunity we couldn't have predicted," said Clouston. "We've just got to make the best of it as a team so that when Filip is back, other guys have maybe had a better opportunity and allowed us to see what they can do."
Added Chris Campoli, one of five returning veterans on the Senators blue line: "It's a horrible break, the way it happened. (Kuba) has been through a lot and it's real tough. But that's why we're a team. We're going to pick each other up when we're down and it's an opportunity.
"We're deep on the blue line and there are guys that have something to prove. We've got to go out there and fill the void. There's opportunities now for guys to make the team that maybe would have had a tough time because of the numbers. I'd expect nothing but real competitive battles and guys being ready to play."
Lee, who saw just 23 games of National Hockey League duty last season, is well aware of the opening that now exists in front of him, even if it proves to be just temporary.
"It's too bad (Kuba) had to get hurt but guys will step up and, hopefully, it will give other guys an opportunity to show what they can do," said Lee, who signed a two-year contract with the Senators back in March. "It was tough last year. I thought I deserved to be here but it was kind of a numbers game. I got stuck in the shuffle and I guess that's how it works sometimes.
"Now I just want to work hard, be aggressive and just not really hold back at all."Around the boards
Expect players such as Cowen, Wiercioch and forwards Bobby Butler
and Roman Wick — all of whom who are expected to contend for roster spots — to get a long look early in the pre-season schedule, which begins with back-to-back road games in Toronto on Tuesday and Wednesday. "Each one of those guys will get two or three of the first four games," said Clouston. "They're going to get an early opportunity and they'll have to make the most of it." ... The majority of roster cuts aren't expected to happen until Sept. 29, the day the Binghamton Senators head off to their training camp in Newfoundland.