John Tavares to miss rest of NHL season with knee injury
Islanders centre is 3rd in league scoring with 66 points
Canada's John Tavares is staring at more than lost games at the Sochi Olympics men’s hockey tournament.
The star centre, who plays for the New York Islanders, will miss the remainder of the regular season after suffering a torn medial collateral ligament and meniscus in his left knee in the Canadian squad's 2-1 quarter-final win over Latvia on Wednesday, the NHL team announced Thursday.
In the second period, Tavares was checked by Arturs Kulda, pinning the Canadian player’s leg against the boards.
He was a big part of our team ... a great guy in the [dressing] room.- Jeff Carter on injured Canadian Olympic hockey teammate John Tavares
Tavares left the bench and didn’t return to the game as Canada gained a berth in Friday’s semifinals versus the United States (noon ET).
"He was a big part of our team and obviously, you don't want to see anybody get hurt no matter who they are playing for," Canadian teammate Jeff Carter said of Tavares. "He was a great guy in the [dressing] room."
"You feel for him as a friend, as a teammate and, quite honestly, as a Canadian," Islanders defenceman Travis Hamonic told Newsday in New York. "Johnny is one of the best players our country has and he was relied upon a lot for that team.
"He's given a lot of himself for Canada in a lot of tournaments. It's just terrible."
Tavares, 23, has been a durable player in four-plus NHL seasons, playing in 350 of a possible 354 games with New York.
3rd in NHL scoring
He is third in NHL scoring this season with 66 points on 24 goals and 42 assists in 59 contests. He didn't have a point in Canada's first four games in Sochi to go with a plus-3 rating.
The Islanders sit last in the Metropolitan Division with a 22-30-8 record and 12 points out of a playoff spot.
The team will allow its captain to stay in Sochi for the remainder of Canada's tournament to allow Tavares to participate in a medal ceremony.
Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene, who sat out Wednesday's contest against Latvia, will take Tavares's spot in the Canadian lineup, likely centring the fourth line between Patrick Sharp and Rick Nash.
New York resumes its season Feb. 27 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Tavares is the latest player from the NHL to get injured in Russia, perhaps giving NHL owners another reason to want to keep their players home and playing with them during the 2018 Olympics.
The Florida Panthers sent just two players to Sochi, and both got banged up. Aleksander Barkov is expected to be out for about a month with a knee injury he got while playing for Finland. Tomas Kopecky is out indefinitely after getting elbowed in the head in a game for Slovakia.
Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers had a hand injury that ruled him out of Norway's finale against Russia.
Detroit Red Wings and Swedish captain Henrik Zetterberg aggravated a pre-existing back injury, which the Olympic team said was a herniated disk, after his Sochi Games opener and is out indefinitely.
With files from The Associated Press