It’s too early to say if Nathan Horton will ever play in another NHL game, but his situation isn’t looking quite as bleak.
“There’s been some progress there. He is feeling a little better,” Blue Jackets president John Davidson told the Columbus Dispatch. “I don’t know what that means in the big picture, but he’s better now than he was earlier this season. His whole attitude was different — better — than the last time we saw him.”
Horton signed a seven-year, $37.1 million contract with the Blue Jackets during the summer of 2013, but he’s only played in 36 contests with the team. He’s missed the entire 2014-15 campaign thus far with a degenerative back injury. He could get relief from the pain through surgery, but that would involve fusing at least three vertebrae and force him into retirement.
“I can’t stand up like a normal person; I can’t bend over,” Horton said, per the Dispatch in November. “I can’t run. I can’t play with my kids. To get in and out of the car, I’m like a 75-year-old man … so slow and stiff. I can’t sleep at night. I try to lay down and my back seizes up and I can’t move, so sleeping is out. I’m like a zombie in the daytime.”
Despite that he made it clear at the time that he doesn’t want surgery if it meant hanging up his skates at the age of 29. He’s continuing to do light exercises and the Blue Jackets remain optimistic about his future.
Artem Anisimov will try to turn around a nightmarish season on Thursday when the Jackets take on the Panthers at Nationwide.
Anisimov, who’s missed the last 23 games with a torn triceps, will draw back into the lineup for the first time since Nov. 29 and play just his 17th game of the year.
As mentioned, the Russian forward’s had a really tough campaign injury-wise. He missed seven games earlier in the year with a concussion, got healthy, played in seven contests, then suffered the torn triceps.
That string of poor health is indicative of what Columbus has dealt with all season long. No team has lost more man games due to injury and, heading into tonight’s tilt with Florida, the Jackets are missing Jeremy Morin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Boone Jenner, Brian Gibbons, Ryan Muray and Nathan Horton to various ailments.
PHT’s favorite meme is back in the rotation today as Columbus announced that forward Jeremy Morin will be sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body ailment.
With that, the Jackets now have Morin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Boone Jenner, Brian Gibbons, Artem Anisimov, Ryan Murray and Nathan Horton on the shelf with injuries.
Morin was hurt during Tuesday’s 4-3 win over Washington, exiting the game after just 7:11 of ice time. This could be related to an upper-body injury he suffered in Columbus’ last game prior to the All-Star break — Morin played just 4:38 in a loss to the Jets — but the club has yet to confirm injury specifics.
Regardless, losing Morin will hurt. While he hasn’t scored much (just three points in 17 games), he was the recipient of some pretty decent playing time — in a 3-1 win over Boston two weeks ago, Morin played 16:05 and finished with three shots on goal.
Oh, and just in case you’re wondering: Columbus was leading the league for man games lost to injury this season, per the latest (Jan. 20) report from website Man Games Lost.