Two Saturdays ago, Patrik Elias awoke from his pregame nap with back spasms.
Twelve days later, his situation is yet to improve.
The Devils put Elias on injured reserve Thursday, and Tom Gulitti of NorthJersey.com reports the veteran Czech will miss “at least” tonight’s game vs. Philly and tomorrow’s game at Toronto with the ailment.
Elias, 37, first tweaked his back prior to a 4-3 win over Boston on Oct. 26. He gutted through the spasms to play once more — a 2-1 win over Tampa on the 29th — but then sat out New Jersey’s last two games, a 1-0 loss to Philly and a 4-0 loss to Minnesota.
(So yeah, the Devils haven’t scored a single goal since Elias left the lineup.)
The back spasms are just the latest in what’s been a tough season for Elias’ health. He missed time earlier this season to a rough bout of food poisoning and, on the year, has only appeared in 10 of New Jersey’s 14 games.
That said, he has been a solid contributor when healthy. Despite the missed time, Elias still sits tied for third in team scoring, with seven points, and was averaging close to 19 minutes per game prior to the back spasms.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Looking back at 10 years of Alex Ovechkin with the Washington Capitals, in case the above video made you want more. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)
David Conte spent 10,000 days with Lou Lamoriello and lived to tell about it. (TSN)
Want to spot some contract year guys? Here are 32 pending restricted free agents. (Sportsnet)
NHL GMs are starting to sniff around with the 2015-16 season about to kick off. (Ottawa Sun)
Some backstory on Zack Kassian that was passed around on Twitter last evening. (Canucks website)
Hey, you can’t say Raffi Torres hasn’t literally paid for his ways:
This is some quality chirping between Jaromir Jagr and Matthew Barnaby:
Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?
TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:
“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”
Daly said that he’d be surprised “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”
As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.
For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.
The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.
So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?
At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”
Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.