How to: Break the Hockey Injury Code

Updated: October 13, 2011 at 10:13 pm by Chris Wassel

We apologize in advance for the controversial nature of this article.  However, there comes a point in time where the lid has to be blown off a bit.  There are times when you look at injuries and go ‘oh my god that guy is going to be out a long time’ then he comes back.  Of course there comes the later revelation that there was an injury that was worse than first feared or a recurring malady occurs.

Submitted for your approval or disapproval below, we will document a few well known injuries, determine their fantasy impact and then at least attempt to ascertain whether or not the situations could have been prevented.  There are clearly so many things that we do not understand about certain injuries, their recovery time, and then their fantasy impact which has an effect in some cases even after a player is deemed 100 percent.

One thing we will not do here is concern ourselves with is the NHL Playoffs.  That can be saved for another time but we may chat a bit about fantasy hockey playoff damage that can be caused.  Even worse these types of injuries can derail a fantasy hockey team before it even gets going.  This is why we do things a little differently here.

It is time to take a look at the first player on our list.  Naturally it is not Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby, but it is someone who was injured throughout the summer.

Step 1:  Determining the injury and how many man-games missed

Well, the first instance we have is the following: Marc Staal was injured in a February 22nd game against Carolina when Eric Staal, of all people, hit him.  At first it was thought all Staal had was a knee injury and it seemed rightfully so.  However, look at the hit as seen here.  That hit clearly was to the upper body and particularly just under the chin.  How was this not deemed a concussion from the beginning?  We may never quite know.

Now he did only miss a week and a half yet played from March 3rd all the way to the end of their season which was April 23rd.  This is all while Staal was not quite at full strength.  We had pretty much had said this several times on The Program that it was a concussion, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Fast forward to September when Staal’s injury magically resurfaced.  The reality was he never really recovered from the initial malady.  Rumblings were starting to bubble up that there were concussion like symptoms.  Then the usual New York media members began to report it.  Next, Staal would not be ready for training camp, then it was preseason, then it was Europe and now it is at least a month.

The hard part with concussions is that they are such unknown quantities.  Despite that, the Rangers had to have some idea that there was something “off” with Staal.  One just hopes that now they get this right and give him all the time he needs so he can play symptom free at last.  When he comes back is anyone’s guess at the current moment — it did not have to be this way.

So how does the Staal injury impact your fantasy team?  Well guys like Staal are great for ATOI (Average Time On Ice).  Staal was making an impact on the man advantage or at least a bit; he did have 11 power play points out of his 29 total points.  The likely projection was close to 35 points this year before the PCS symptoms came back again.  Numbers will have to be adjusted and that is just unfortunate.  This is something that could have been avoided.  Did anyone learn from the Eric Lindros situation?  Clearly sometimes one has to at least wonder.

One could cut Staal’s original projections by at least 20-25 percent but that is not the only guy that probably came back too soon.

Marc Savard is another such case because in some cases it is the player, management, or both.  He was another player who just came back entirely too fast after a severe concussion.  Now he faces an almost uncertain retirement for his troubles.  This was a guy who once could produce 80 or 90 points easily.

Another case was in last year’s playoffs with Henrik Zetterberg.  Sources said he just had a minor knee tweak yet a practice video that leaked to YouTube clearly showed Zetterberg laboring in such a way that easily indicated an MCL injury to the knee.  Sure enough, a few days later it would be revealed that Zetterberg had a sprained MCL.  It was later grudgingly acknowledged by the Detroit Red Wings that some bloggers had broke the story not the mainstream media.

The final case before we look into a few positive aspects is Andrei Markov.  We have said for a while now that Markov is someone you seriously want to avoid in your fantasy leagues.  Between the knee surgeries, and now the tendinitis issues, there is no certain timetable on when Markov could return although surgery was ruled out today.  The guess is that the knee issues are subsiding enough to where corrective surgery would not remedy the problem.  However if you are a Habs fan, the media has not been entirely truthful at times with injury news and Markov especially after he signed that 3-year, $17.25 million dollar contract.  Raise the red flags as you may not get much production from a guy who was thought to be near healthy in September.

Step 2:  The fantasy hockey silver lining

For the negative that we have dealt with, let us quickly look at some of the positive.  Sometimes the gloom and doom that is the nature of injuries can be quickly reversed with aggressive recovery and just guts by players.

We have a few examples for your perusal where the injury bark was worse than the actual bite.  So here we go ladies and gentlemen…

Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks was thought to be lost for at least the first month to two months of the regular season after summertime hip surgery.  There were issues why Kesler waited so long in the first place when it was painfully obvious in the Stanley Cup Finals that he was playing hurt and injured at least a round or two before.  Now it is being reported that Kesler may be back in the next week or two which is a huge difference.  Please note the original downtime was 3-5 months but was erring more to the five than to the three.

Kesler and his numbers will have to be readjusted some but, hey, a 55-60 point season is not out of the realm of possibility.  The key will be how the repaired hip meshes with his skating technique — expect little or no problems there.

Lastly, there was the case of David Krejci just this week.  There was a report floating around that Krejci could be out a number of weeks but the team recently listed him as day-to-day, possibly returning as soon as Tuesday.  Clearly the local media panicked a bit with the initial summary and report.  Hey, it happens, but remember to read a lot into the sources when any communication is issued.  Thankfully Krejci owners can now breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Step 3:  Keep your ear to the ice

The fantasy hockey fan has to be well informed and is probably responsible as far as injury information.  There are so many sources when it comes to injury news but the goal is for us to at least provide “reliable information” to the readers. Our player updates feed is updated all day with the most current injury news from Trevor Gillies to Sidney Crosby.

We now leave it up to the readers, commentators and followers alike:  What do you think about all of this injury business?  How has it affected your fantasy teams?  Thanks again, it’s good to be back…

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