Centre Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators is out indefinitely due to a herniated disc injury that will require back surgery.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray told reporters Thursday he doesn't have a timetable for Spezza's return, but expressed hope the star could be back before the end of the season.
"It's just the best thing to do at this point," Murray told reporters Thursday at Scotiabank Place. "You probably could take days off and play a game here and there but that doesn't make any sense for him or us.
"So getting it done, hopefully getting it cleaned out will allow him to come back at 100 per cent and continue his career."
The 28-year-old Mississauga, Ont,., native had missed the team's previous two games, although the Sens didn't specify for what type of injury. He recorded two goals and three assists in five games.
Spezza scored 34 goals last season, tying a career best, to go along with 50 assists. He led the Senators in points for the third time in his career and ranked fourth in the NHL.
'You can't replace high-end skill very easily. The fortunate thing for us is we do have some people that play very hard on this team.'— Senators GM Bryan Murray on absorbing the loss of Jason Spezza
Spezza, who will undergo the procedure Friday in Toronto, has 621 points (228-393) in 611 career regular-season games and 51 points (17-34) in 53 career playoff contests.
His back problems flared up Sunday in a shootout loss to Pittsburgh.
"You can't replace high-end skill very easily," Murray said. "It's a big loss. The fortunate thing for us is we do have some people that play very hard on this team … we have a group that will compete hard and hopefully we'll make our way through a busy time, a busy schedule and continue to compete at the level.
"But we don't pretend we can replace that skill level."
Ottawa (5-1-1) is tied with Boston for most points in the Eastern Conference, although they've played one more game than the Bruins.
The Senators play on Friday in Carolina before heading to Montreal for a Hockey Night in Canada matinee on Sunday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET).