When the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Nathan Horton to a seven-year, $37.1 million deal on Friday, they did it knowing the rugged power forward would need to undergo shoulder surgery, a procedure that would put him out for a while.
Today, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports Horton will have surgery next week — in Boston, day not yet determined — and be out four to six months.
Horton reportedly has a chronic shoulder injury dating back to his time with Florida. He re-injured it during a fight against Jarome Iginla in April, then tweaked it again during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against Chicago.
Here’s more on Horton’s recovery plans and estimated return, from the Dispatch:
Horton is going to miss at least the first two months of the season while he recovers from shoulder surgery. So the Jackets could be without him for the first 20 or 30 games, maybe more.
When Horton does return, Richards indicated that he and Marian Gaborik — a multiyear 40-goal scorer — would be on different lines, first so they could stay in their preferred spots (right wing) but also to give opponents something to fret about.
Health concerns have been a constant for Horton throughout his nine-year career. While he’s participated in 80+ games in three seasons, he’s also missed 75 games over the last five seasons due to the aforementioned shoulder issues, and a concussion suffered during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final against Vancouver.
Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.
Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.
The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.
“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.
Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.
The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.
“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?