Messier Could Miss Rest of Season
March 01, 2002
By Associated Press
March 1, 2002
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Rangers won't have Mark Messier to steer them the rest of the regular season — and that's bad news for the slumping team.
New York's captain will have arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder Friday and will be sidelined for at least 4-to-6 weeks.
"I don't know exactly what I'm faced with," said Messier, who has never had any kind of surgery in his 23 NHL seasons. "But from what I'm told, I'll be out six weeks to three months. I'm hoping I'm more in the six-week category."
General manager Glen Sather believes Messier could return before that if everything went perfectly. He also knows Messier could be out much longer.
"They'll take out some bone spurs and repair any torn fragments," Sather said. "But you don't know what they'll find in there. It's well known that the rehab could be anywhere from three weeks to six months."
The regular season has six weeks remaining, and after a 3-0 loss to Ottawa on Thursday night, New York has a tenuous hold on the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"My goal is to be back for the playoffs," Messier said. "Thhat depends on a lot of things, some of which are out of my control."
The team didn't play well Thursday, falling behind by three goals by 13:24 of the second period.
"Tonight's game was a game with no edge to it, even dull at times," said Rangers goalie Mike Richter, who had 28 saves. "Ottawa can play that way. The key for them is to get an early lead, and they did that."
Patrick Lalime stopped 34 shots, few of them challenging, for his second shutout of the season, and Radek Bonk scored twice as Ottawa blew past the listless Rangers. "They had a few shots at the beginning of the second period," Lalime said.
The Senators surged 12 points ahead of New York into a tie with Toronto for the fourth spot in the East. Todd White also scored for Ottawa, and Marian Hossa added three assists. The Rangers remained tied with Montreal for the eighth and final playoff spot.
"Games are slipping by, everybody knows that," Rangers coach Ron Low said. "We just couldn't get the puck past Lalime."
The team might also have had a letdown knowing Messier won't be on the ice. "Mark is obviously a difficult guy to replace on the ice, if not impossible," Richter said.
Messier said he will begin rehab 48 hours after surgery. He will travel with the team on road trips and could begin skating as soon as Monday.
The shoulder kept Messier out of 11 straight games and 15 of 18 before he played — with pain — in the Rangers' final five games before the Olympic break.
Messier has a contract that runs through the end of the season, but said the injury won't cause him to think about retirement. "If anything, my resolve is stronger than ever to come back," he said.
His teammates won't think that way, either. "He expects to play again and we expect him to play again," defenseman Brian Leetch said.
Last updated: 01-Mar-02