The positive vibes surrounding Columbus’ second-ever playoff appearance took a hit on Friday, as GM Jarmo Kekalainen announced forward Nathan Horton underwent abdominal surgery and would miss the next six weeks of action.
Horton, 28, scored five goals and 19 points in 36 games for the Jackets this season, his first in Columbus. He was the club’s prized free agent acquisition last summer — inking a mega seven-year, $37.1 million deal — but missed the first 40 games of the season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
The former Bruin and Panther debuted for the Jackets in January and made an immediate impact, playing some quality hockey on the club’s top line alongside youngsters Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner. Ten days ago, Horton was sidelined with the abdominal injury but did try to come back, playing just over five minutes in a win against Phoenix before re-aggravating the ailment.
News of losing Horton just prior to the playoffs is a tough blow for Columbus. He was one of the more vested postseason veterans on the team — appearing in 43 career playoff contests — and further thins out the Jackets up front, as the club was already without the services of R.J. Umberger and Nick Foligno.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.