Niklas Kronwall (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
Niklas Kronwall hasn’t suffered a setback in his recovery from knee surgery, but Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said the veteran blueliner won’t be back until the tail end of his initial timeline. Kronwall, 35, has three goals, 17 points and continues to be the No. 1 defenseman in Detroit.
The Red Wings were aware defenseman Niklas Kronwall would need knee surgery and, as such, planned for him to go under the knife around the all-star break in order to minimize the number of games he would miss. Any hope he would be back in time for the first game back has been squashed, however.
Detroit placed Kronwall, 35, on the long-term injured reserve Tuesday and, according to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, Kronwall’s injury hasn’t been healing the way the Red Wings expected.
“Anytime you have surgery you don’t know how quickly you’re going to come back,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill told Roose. “He was extremely hopeful he’d be able to come back in the minimum but the reality is lots of times it’s not. In this case we wanted him to come back 100-percent ready to go and part of that 100 percent means having time to skate.”
This doesn’t necessarily knock Kronwall off of his original 2-4 week recovery timeline, however. When Kronwall’s surgery was announced, the long-term outlook had him sidelined until at least Feb. 15. That still remains a target date, according to the Red Wings, but Blashill wasn’t committing to having Kronwall back in the lineup by mid-February.
“It could easily be longer than that. We’ll see,” Blashill told Roose. “One thing we’ve learned is it’s really hard to throw a guy in when he’s not 100 percent and expect him to play like he’s 100 percent.”
There has been no indication that Kronwall’s injury is in any way linked to previous ailments he’s had involving his knees. In 2005-06, Kronwall missed 52 games with a knee injury and he was out 30 games with a sprained MCL in 2009-10. Generally speaking, though, Kronwall has been the picture of health for Detroit. In the five seasons prior to 2015-16, Kronwall missed a total of 10 games.
Kronwall has three goals and 17 points in 45 games this season, and even at his age he continues to be the top blueliner in Detroit. He has averaged 22:45 ice time per game this season, a full 1:30 more than any other Red Wings defenseman, and continues to man the top power play unit for Detroit.
In the four games Kronwall has missed, Detroit has gone 2-2 with losses to Western Conference opponents St. Louis and Anaheim and wins over Eastern Conference rivals Buffalo and the New York Islanders.