Veteran Columbus forward R.J. Umberger missed a handful of games this year as a healthy scratch — but it turns out he was anything but healthy.
In an interview with the Columbus Dispatch, Umberger revealed he’d been playing with a broken finger, separated shoulder and herniated disc at times season — including all three during the Blue Jackets’ opening-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
From the Dispatch:
Q: How long has the finger been broken?
A: Early March. It was not a break, they thought. But then it started hurting again so they x-rayed it again and there’s a huge hairline fracture in it.
Q: What about your back?
A: That’s bothered me a lot of the year. After the Olympic break it really started bothering me. MRI said herniated disc. The shoulder is what knocked me out (of an April 6 game) against the Islanders. (He didn’t play again until Game 2 vs. Pittsburgh).
Umberger — who finished fourth on the team in goals this year, with 18 — started sitting as a “healthy” scratch in late March before getting sidelined with an “upper-body injury” (the shoulder) on Apr. 7, one that saw him miss the remainder of the regular season.
The 32-year-old returned for the postseason and appeared in four of six games against Pittsburgh, averaging 12:47 per game while assisting on one of the most famous goals in Columbus franchise history — Nick Foligno’s OT winner in Game 4 to seven the series at two:
It’ll be interesting to see what Umberger’s future in Columbus holds. While he’s one of the club’s longest-tenured players and a gritty veteran leader, he also carries a fairly sizable cap hit ($4.6 million) until 2017 and has fallen down the pecking order with the emergence of Columbus’ young, talented forwards.
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.