Columbus Blue Jackets injuries: Laugh so you’re not crying

Ryan Kennedy
Mark Letestu (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nathan Horton, Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky and Sergei Bobrovsky. That’s a lot of core to have on the shelf but the Columbus – oh wait, add Mark Letestu to the IR – Blue Jackets are doing what they – also, James Wisniewski, are you kidding me? – uh, can.

Spirits were high in Columbus this summer after the franchise’s second-ever playoff berth ended with its first-ever post-season victories, even if the Jackets fell to Pittsburgh in the first round. But it seems the only spirits present now in Ohio are phantoms of the operating table, as the Jackets have been killed by injuries throughout the lineup. Along with the players mentioned above, players such as Ryan Murray, Matt Calvert, Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson have also missed time.

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Eric Gryba on Artem Anisimov: Predatorial headshot or clean hit?

Eric Gryba (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

When people talk about the director of player safety being the most thankless job on the planet, they might want to reference the hit Eric Gryba of the Ottawa Senators put on Artem Anisimov of the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night.

Because that hit epitomizes the rock-and-a-hard-place situation in which Stephane Quintal and his lieutenants often find themselves. If he suspends Gryba for the hit, he comes under fire from those who don’t see anything wrong with it and claim the NHL is trying to take checking out of the game. He allows it to go unpunished and he comes under attack from observers who believe the NHL is being complacent when it comes to making headhunters accountable for their actions.

For the record, Gryba received a match penalty and a game misconduct for the hit, which popped Anisimov’s helmet off before his head struck the ice. He did not return to the game and is out day-to-day with an apparent concussion.

Here’s a look at the hit from two different angles:

I’ve watched this hit numerous times from several angles in slow motion and I still can’t figure out whether or not it deserves a suspension. Do his feet leave the ice? Doesn’t appear so? Is the principle point of contact the head? Looks like a shoulder to chest hit more than anything? Was Gryba headhunting an unsuspecting player? Well, we’ll never know exactly what was going through Gryba’s head during the play, but it certainly doesn’t look like it.

Two things we should keep in mind here. The first is that Gryba is a repeat offender by the NHL’s definition for the suspension he received for his headshot on Lars Eller in the playoffs in 2012. But it’s also important to remember that his status as a repeat offender should, and will, have nothing to do with determining guilt or innocence here. That’s why a person’s criminal past is not allowed to be used as evidence during a trial. Now if he’s deemed to be guilty, then his status of a repeat offender will be held against him.

The second is the extent of the injury. It’s impossible to tell 100 percent whether Anisimov received any damage from the impact of the hit itself, but its indisputable that his bare head hit the ice when he fell. Whether Gryba was headhunting or not, should he be held liable for the fact that Anisimov did not secure his chin strap enough to prevent it from popping off his head upon impact? The answer is, of course, no.

It certainly wouldn’t be outlandish for the NHL to decide to not have a hearing with Gryba for this hit, unlike the in-person hearing it’s going to have with John Moore of the New York Rangers over this hit:

That one will probably earn Moore a six-game suspension. But with the Gryba hit, it’s difficult to determine whether there’s even any recklessness at play here. Was this just a case of a big guy seeing an opportunity to make a hit and making the most of it – nothing wrong with that in anyone’s NHL – or someone who was truly trying to do more than separate his opponent from the puck? When a 6-foot-4, 225-pound guy makes moving contact, sometimes it’s not going to turn out well.

One thing I do know: I wouldn’t want to be occupying Quintal’s chair on this file.

Sergei Bobrovsky breaks finger. Here’s why Columbus will be OK

Matt Larkin
Sergei Bobrovsky has landed on the I.R., but his recovery timetable is short. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

The hits – and breaks – just keep on coming for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Nathan Horton’s degenerative back condition may cost him his career. Ryan Murray missed the first three weeks with a lingering knee injury. Boone Jenner broke his hand. Brandon Dubinsky had abdominal surgery. Nick Foligno sustained a stinger in a dangerous collision on the weekend. Matt Calvert landed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. Cam Atkinson got cut across his eyelid and cheek by a skate and needed 40 stitches.

Despite all the maladies piling up, the Jackets and their fans could take solace in the fact they had Sergei Bobrovsky. He was the great equalizer, having posted a 2.27 goals-against average and .925 save percentage across 104 appearances since joining the Blue Jackets in 2012-13. He almost carried a talent-thin team to the playoffs two seasons ago, winning the Vezina Trophy.

For the second straight year, however, ‘Bob’ will miss a meaningful chunk of time. He fractured a finger Monday when a puck hit him during practice. The team hasn’t indicated exactly how it happened. The initial prognosis is just 1-2 weeks, which isn’t too bad at all, but it seems overly optimistic for a goaltender. You need that finger to be tip-top any time pucks fly toward it. The short timetable suggests it’s just a hairline fracture and/or an injury to a non-significant digit (i.e. blocker hand instead of catching hand).

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Rumor Roundup: Staal, Stewart still highly sought after

Eric Staal

Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal reportedly has no intention of waiving his no-trade clause, but that hasn’t kept his name out of the rumor mill.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports there’s no change in Staal’s commitment to the struggling Hurricanes, who enter this week as the NHL’s only winless team. Dreger claims the Toronto Maple Leafs, who inquired about the Hurricanes’ captain in the offseason, remain interested in him. Read more

Columbus’ Nick Foligno escapes serious injury despite scary collision with linesman

Adam Proteau
Nick Foligno (Getty Images)

Nick Foligno is thanking his lucky stars Sunday night. The Blue Jackets right winger escaped serious injury after being taken off the ice on a stretcher due to an unusual collision with linesman Shane Heyer during the third period of Columbus’ game against the L.A. Kings.

Foligno was skating the puck up the ice along the boards and had his head down when he collided at an awkward angle with the lower back area of Heyer, who had jumped up on the boards in an attempt to avoid contact with players. The 26-year-old fell to the ice immediately and laid motionless for several minutes before he was removed from the ice strapped to a spinal board: Read more

Nathan Horton’s potentially career-threatening injury a blow to Jackets’ playoff hopes

Adam Proteau
Nathan Horton (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

After he signed a seven-year, $37.1-million contract with the Blue Jackets in the summer of 2013, right winger Nathan Horton appeared in only 36 games thanks to injuries to his shoulder and abdomen last season. And Tuesday night, there was even worse news coming out of Columbus: the 29-year-old is dealing with a degenerative back injury that might be career ending.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Horton, who has experienced back issues for several years, felt the problem worsen this summer while training in Florida and has been diagnosed with a serious degeneration of the lower back area. He may be out of action for at least this season, if not for good. There is a surgery he can undergo to address it, but it’s viewed as a last resort and offers no guarantee of success.

“He’s in constant pain,” Horton’s agent Paul Krepelka told the Dispatch. “He’s in constant discomfort.”

The majority of Horton’s $5.3-million-per-season salary will be covered by insurance and he can be placed on long term injured reserve to free up cap space with which to replace him. But that’s easier said than done for Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Read more

Senators’ Lehner absolutely robs Blue Jackets’ Wennberg with stunning stick save

Robin Lehner (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s been the weekend of the stick save.

Last night, it was Minnesota Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper keeping the score knotted at one-apiece with a diving, swatting stick save on a puck that was redirected on goal by teammate Jonas Brodin’s skate.

Robin Lehner must have caught the clip because he tried his hand at one of his own.

In Saturday’s contest against Columbus, the Blue Jackets moved the puck around behind the net and right winger Jack Skille moved the puck to defenseman Fedor Tyutin. Savard let a shot go that deflected off of a Senator and landed right on the waiting stick of Alexander Wennberg.

Wennberg is going to want that one back.

The save was Lehner’s sixth of the game and kept the score at even at zeroes. For the remainder of the game, the Senators backup goaltender would remain stellar. He finished the game with 38 stops in the Senators 3-2 victory over the Blue Jackets.