GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 05: Milan Michalek #9 of the Ottawa Senators during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on December 5, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Senators 3-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Weeks after tweaking his knee in the February 13th pregame skate in Pittsburgh, Milan Michalek has finally elected to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
According to the organization, Michalek is having the procedure to remove bone chips from the same knee that forced him to miss 46 games during the 2003/04 season (torn ligament).
Michalek, who led the Senators with 35 goals last season, opted originally to wait and see if the injured knee would respond to time and rest; preferring to play through the injury and postpone surgery until the offseason. Although he eventually wound up playing in two consecutive games on March 6th and 8th, registering an assist in each, it came to a point where he and the organization decided that getting corrective surgery now was the best option.
On one hand, I can’t blame a player for wanting to delay surgery; especially given the circumstances. His already short-manned team was fighting for a playoff spot, and he wanted to compete and hopefully give the team the best opportunity to win in the interim. The parralells to how his 2009/10 season ended are obvious.
On the other hand, a month has elapsed since the time of the original occurrence (assuming that the injury actually first happened during the February 13th pregame skate and not earlier), Michalek would be that much closer to a return had he elected for surgery then. Making the argument that any expectations for success this season were gone the moment that Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza were felled by their respective injuries is reasoned.
But, here we are and the circumstances are still the same. The team’s roster is depleted and they’re still fighting for a playoff spot.
Now Michalek’s out indefinitely, but the organization is holding out hope that he can return in time for the playoffs; assuming of course that the Senators can remain in the hunt.
It’s an ill-timed injury for the player. Having come off one of his best offensive seasons, he only scored two goals in 15 games this season. The 28-year old winger will have one year remaining on his contract at the conclusion of this season and is slated to be paid $6 million in real dollars next season.
As a player who is on the cusp of leaving his prime production years and given his injury history, it will be interesting to see how a small to mid-market team like the Senators handle his situation moving forward.
They seem to like him as a player and person. They easily could have capitalized on his offensive success and parlayed him at a time when his value was at a peak while he wore the Senators jersey. Last April, I penned a piece asking whether the time was right to trade Michalek and come this offseason, we’re going to wonder whether he’s a piece to extend and move forward with.