Phil Kessel could be forced to miss start of season after hand surgery

Jared Clinton
Phil Kessel (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Phil Kessel is coming off of a nearly Conn Smythe-worthy playoff performance and is looking to hit the ground running in his second season as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The only thing hindering Kessel at this point is a hand injury that required off-season surgery and is yet to fully heal.

According to Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, Kessel is progressing well in his recovery, but uncertainty still surrounds his ability to return in time for opening night of the 2016-17 campaign. Speaking with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey, Rutherford said Kessel is “tracking” in the right direction, but that doesn’t guarantee his readiness for the season.

“With surgery like that, you can’t say 100 percent for sure,” Rutherford said, according to Mackey. “Even if it’s not for the start of the season, it wouldn’t be that much time.” Read more

Steen’s recovery ‘very positive,’ Blues hope he’s back for opening night

Jared Clinton
Alexander Steen (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Alexander Steen’s off-season shoulder surgery has already put the Blues winger out of the World Cup, but St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong isn’t expecting the injury to cost Steen much playing time when the regular season rolls around.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford, Armstrong said Steen, 32, “pushed very hard” to be ready for the international tournament, but he simply couldn’t get fit in time to take part in the World Cup. The nature of his injury and the recovery time was such that Steen’s first re-evaluation post-surgery will come Oct. 3, Armstrong said, which is only days before the start of the tournament.

But it’s not all bad news because Steen’s off-season work and rehabbing of his shoulder in an attempt to play at the World Cup could bode well for his ability to suit up when the Blues open their season against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 12.

“We’re still quite a ways from camp, but I would think he’ll jump right into the flow drills — that’s the idea now,” Armstrong told Rutherford. “But we’re not going to be penny-wise, pound-foolish. Whether he participates in battle drills in early September or mid-September, I’m not that concerned about. (But) he looks like he’s in great shape, he’s ahead of schedule and we’re hoping that he’s ready for Game 1. If not Game 1, very early in the season, but all things are very positive.” Read more

Benn looking at ‘bigger picture’ after injury forces him out of World Cup

Jared Clinton
Jamie Benn (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Jamie Benn has been the NHL’s most prolific scorer over the past two seasons and he very well could have taken over the World Cup had a core muscle injury not forced him out of the tournament. But as Benn makes his recovery, he knows that there are more important things than a two-week international showdown.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Benn, 27, wasn’t sad to miss out on the tournament. He was one of the first 16 players named to the Canadian squad — a mortal lock to make the team even before the announcement — and was likely set to take on a bigger role after contributed two goals in six games with the national squad during the 2014 Olympics.

“It’s a little bit disappointing,” Benn told Stars Inside Edge’s Mark Stepneski. “I wanted to be there and be part of that team. It’s the first time in 12 years that they’ve done [the World Cup], and I think it’s a unique tournament the way they set up the teams, but I think you have to look at the bigger picture, and that’s being healthy for our season here in Dallas.” Read more

Tomas Jurco undergoes back surgery, ‘not sure’ he’ll be ready for season

Jared Clinton
Tomas Jurco (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Detroit Red Wings are running into some injury problems and training camp, let alone the regular season, hasn’t even started.

In the same week that it was announced defenseman Niklas Kronwall is still battling a knee injury and can’t compete at the World Cup and that prospect Vili Saarijarvi will miss three months following wrist surgery, the Red Wings have also announced that winger Tomas Jurco may not be ready to go come opening night.

According to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, Red Wings GM Ken Holland has confirmed that Jurco, 23, injured his back while training in Slovakia and there are concerns about his ability to hit the ice in time for training camp, the pre-season and even the start of the regular season.

“He needs 4-6 weeks of rest, then start slow. Need to see how he feels,” Holland said, per Khan. “Don’t think he’ll be on the ice playing in 4-6 weeks. Not sure he’ll be ready to open the season. Won’t know for another month down the road.” Read more

Logan Couture to replace injured Jamie Benn on Canada’s World Cup team

Jared Clinton
Logan Couture (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

A core muscle injury that required mid-July surgery to repair put Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn’s status for the World Cup in question, and Tuesday came the news that Benn is officially out of the tournament.

Hockey Canada has announced that Benn, 27, will not be able to take part in the World Cup, despite the fact that his originally reported recovery timeline made it possible that he could have been healthy in time for the competition. Benn had previously said that his focus was to play in the World Cup, adding he believed the surgery would be slightly easier to come back from than the double hip surgery he had undergone during the previous off-season. The injury was said to need a six-week rehab process, but after re-evaluation, Benn will not be able to participate.

But fear not, Canadian hockey fans, as Benn, the NHL’s highest-scoring player over the past two seasons, has been replaced by the 2015-16 post-season’s leading point-getter, Logan Couture. Read more

Swedish referee loses finger after hand caught in boards during pre-season game

Jared Clinton
Anton Starby (via C More Sport/Aftonbladet)

Freak injuries have been known to happen from time to time in hockey, however they’re usually much more laughable than the injury linesman Anton Starby suffered during a Swedish Allsvenskan pre-season game.

For instance, Dustin Penner suffered back injury during his time with the Los Angeles Kings while eating pancakes. That was worth a laugh. And though it wasn’t quite as funny, Ottawa Senators netminder Craig Anderson going on the shelf because he cut his hand while fixing himself a meal was downright bizarre. Starby’s injury doesn’t fall into either category.

During an Allsvenskan exhibition between Tingsryd and Oskarshamn, Starby attempted to avoid a collision between two players along the left wing boards and placed his hand on the dasher to support his body. As his body drifted back across the blueline and toward the goal, his hand got caught in the boards and — brace yourself for this — resulted in his fingertip being torn off.

“He screamed for five minutes, then he was sedated immediately,” Tingsryd coach Magnus Sundquist told Aftonbladet. Read more

Senators’ GM Dorion says MacArthur ready to return, was ‘missed the most’ of any player

Jared Clinton
Clarke MacArthur (Jana Chytilova/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Ottawa Senators’ Clarke MacArthur is arguably one of the most underrated wingers in the league, but a pair of early season concussions didn’t give him a chance to showcase why during the 2015-16 season.

MacArthur’s first concussion this past year came during the pre-season. The 31-year-old attempted to play through the injury, but staying in the lineup didn’t come without a cost. He opened the season with three mediocre outings and in the fourth game of the season against the Blue Jackets, MacArthur took a bump from Columbus’ Brandon Saad and fell to the ice. The result was another concussion, and one so severe that it cost MacArthur the rest of his season. He even felt it may have cost him his career.

“At one point in late November, early December, I was thinking I was done, maybe this is it,” MacArthur told the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren in March. “I had to get out of there. Every day you’re coming to the rink and you want to go on the ice. It’s like going to Disneyland. Everyone else goes on the rides and you’re outside the doors, watching.”

But MacArthur won’t have to watch any longer come the new campaign, as GM Pierre Dorion said the 31-year-old left winger is healthy and ready to go. Read more

Parise lost feeling in leg, foot following back injury, but he’ll be ready for season

Jared Clinton
Zach Parise (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Zach Parise missed 12 games in 2015-16 and still managed to lead the Minnesota Wild with 25 goals. Considering his production, it’s hard to imagine what Parise could have accomplished had he not been dealing with a back injury so bad that he was hobbled for much of the back half of the season.

Speaking with NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti, Parise, 32, said that the injury began to flare up in January and that he played through numbness in his leg and foot until the end of the campaign. Parise told Gulitti he had been taking cortisone injections to alleviate his symptoms, but a hit from San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture with just one game left in the regular season made the injury the worst it had been to that point. So bad, in fact, that Parise lost feeling in his leg.

“It was really scary,” Parise told Gulitti. “That’s not very comfortable at all, for the longest time, having no feeling in your leg and in your foot. You are kind of wondering, ‘When is this going to go away? When is this going to go away?’ And one day I woke up and it was good, so it was good after that. But, at that time, it’s really scary not feeling anything and really struggling to get out of bed.” Read more