Mike Comrie won’t return until he completes rehab from hip surgery; Is his career over?

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For a guy who’s just 30 years old, Mike Comrie has seen a lot of highs and lows in his NHL career. It’s quite possible that we’ve seen the last of him, though.

That’s the unshakable takeaway from Comrie’s press release today. The 10-year NHL veteran announced that he won’t continue his NHL career until his surgically repaired hip is “fully rehabilitated.” Comrie underwent hip surgery for the second time of his career during an injury-marred 2010-11 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Comrie announced that there is “no timetable” for his return, which doesn’t guarantee that he will retire, but that seems like a possibility. Then again, the release ends with a hint that maybe it’s not quite over by saying that the rehab process could take several more months.

Going into the 2010-11 season, many thought Comrie had a chance to shake “Mr. Hillary Duff” jokes by playing alongside talented teammates in Pittsburgh. His season never really took off, though, as he scored just one goal and five assists for six points in 21 games.

“In wanting to return to play after surgery, I pushed myself too early and that has not helped my recovery,” said Comrie. “I will return to the NHL when I am healthy and able to play at the level I have come to expect of myself.”

Looking back at Comrie’s career (so far?)

If this really is the end of Comrie’s career, it should be remembered as a solid one that could have been even better. He began his NHL career as a homegrown favorite with the Edmonton Oilers, notching 133 points in his first 192 games from 2000-01 to 02-03.

Things fell apart after that, though, as a contract holdout eventually prompted Edmonton to trade him to the Philadelphia Flyers on December 16, 2003. Comrie lasted 21 games with the Flyers before he was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes, where he played 122 games (parts of three seasons). Comrie eventually was traded twice more (both times by the Ottawa Senators) and also signed as a free agent with the New York Islanders, Penguins and even had a short reunion with the Oilers.

There’s a lot of “what ifs” that go with many careers like his, but it’s hard not to wonder how much better things might have been for Comrie if that contract squabble never happened in Edmonton.

Will he be back?

That being said, the thing that makes Comrie a little different from Paul Kariya (a player who put his career on a hiatus because of injury issues and eventually retired) is his age. There’s at least some reason to believe that Comrie simply needs more time to rehab that hip injury. He could very well decide to come back late in the 2011-12 season, making him a solid mid-season free agent pickup for a team that needs a little pop on offense.

We’ll wait and see, but there’s a distinct chance that Comrie’s career might end with a whimper.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.

Kuzmenko signs 2-year extension with Canucks

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Forward Andrei Kuzmenko signed a two-year contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

The deal has an average annual value of $5.5 million.

The 26-year-old Kuzmenko has played in 47 games for the Canucks this season with 21 goals and 22 assists, four penalty minutes and a plus-4 defensive ranking.

Kuzmenko ranks second on the team in goals and power-play goals (nine) this season.

His 43 points are also tied for third on the team in overall scoring, while his 32 even-strength points (12 goals, 20 assists) are second on the Canucks.

Kuzmenko leads all Vancouver skaters in shooting rate (24.7%) and ranks third in the NHL in that category (minimum of 20 games).

He leads all first-year NHLers in almost every offensive category, including goals, assists, points, points per game (0.91), power-play goals, and power-play points.

He has also had 14 multi-point games so far this season (second most on the Canucks), highlighted by his first-career NHL hat trick and season-high four-point game against Anaheim on Nov. 3.

A native of Yakutsk, Russia, Kuzmenko spent his first eight professional seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg, getting 200 points (85-115-200) in 315 regular-season games. He set career highs in goals (20), assists (33), and points (53) last season, ranking second in the league in scoring.

Kuzmenko has also represented his country on the international stage on multiple occasions, totaling 16 points (10-6-16) and six penalty minutes in 37 games played. He was originally signed by Vancouver to a one-year, entry-level contract on July 13, 2022.