The Carolina Hurricanes were dealt a major blow on Tuesday as GM Jim Rutherford announced defenseman Joni Pitkanen would miss the 2013-14 season with a broken left calcaneus (heel) bone suffered last season on an icing crash against Washington.
Pitkanen, 29, recently underwent a CT scan on the heel to see how he was recovering. The injury was extremely severe — Pitkanen reportedly broke his heel in eight different places — and was similar to the one ex-Washington forward Pat Peake suffered in 1996, one that all but ended his career.
Here’s more, from the Washington Times:
Peake played just five more games after his heel bone broke in 14 places and twisted. Pitkanen’s broke in eight places but didn’t move, Peake said. That’s considered a positive.
“Your heel bone, the best way to describe it is like an egg. So if you give it a good flick or a thump, it just kind of splinters and cracks like that,” Peake said. “And it just goes right around the whole way. That’s exactly what happened to his. It’s such an odd injury.”
Peake said it’s an injury common to construction workers who fall from two or three stories and people in car accidents who slam on the brakes. In hockey, Peake was the prime example before Pitkanen.
Pitkanen was a valuable member of the ‘Canes blueline. Prior to injury-plagued 2012-13 and 2011-12 seasons, he put up 81 points in 143 games between 2009-11, averaging close to 26 minutes per night.
What’s more, the Finnish rearguard is in the final year of his three-year, $13.5 million deal. He’s set to become a UFA at season’s end and will be facing an uphill struggle to find work, considering he’s only played sporadically over the last three seasons.
And, just to add further insult to injury, the heel break will keep Pitkanen from representing Finland at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He was one of the 16 defensemen named to the evaluation camp roster in July.