I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on television but in my opinion Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will need a shoulder operation.
I’m sure the Edmonton Oilers would get a second opinion from a real doctor, but in my mind that’s what will eventually be needed for the 19-year-old Nugent-Hopkins after news on Wednesday that he won’t play against Dallas. The Stars aren’t a concern right now, it’s one of the Oilers’ stars that’s the real worry.
Oilers coach Ralph Krueger explained that the centreman suffered a shoulder injury in overtime against Vancouver on Monday. It’s the same shoulder he hurt last year but a different problem. Nugent-Hopkins was taken out of the Oilers’ lineup January 2, 2012, after a fall into the boards in Chicago. He missed 13 games, but came back too soon and was hurt by a hit from Maple Leafs’ Mike Brown.
Nugent-Hopkins suffered an injury to the same shoulder but again it was a different issue that caused him to miss another seven games. There is a pattern developing here.
The young man had time to heal in the off-season. Months between games and before going to the World Juniors, Nugent-Hopkins shoulder had to be re-examined to make sure he was healthy enough to go overseas. In the AHL, the shoulder didn’t hamper him with 20 points in 19 games. He and his game looked healthy.
Even though the Oilers are only nine games into this season, it appears as if the centreman needs a few maintenance days. He’s expected to be back as early as Saturday. This isn’t a serious short-term issue but it could be a long-term problem if it isn’t taken care of as soon as the season is over.
Look no farther than the rocket who works to Nugent-Hopkins’ left side on most nights to see a shoulder surgery success story.
For months last season Taylor Hall played hurt on a shoulder that wasn’t what it should be. I’m not sure who noticed but you know he did. Not feeling quite right, and yet Hall was on pace to score 35 goals or more.
I’m not saying Hall was ecstatic when he went under the knife that day, the next few weeks, and even the first couple of months couldn’t have been too thrilling. However, look at him now and tell me season ending shoulder surgery wasn’t the right move.
This season things are different. First off, it’s a compressed schedule which means fewer games for Nugent-Hopkins to tolerate the pain. Secondly, the Oilers look like they could be a playoff contender. With that in mind, the first-overall pick in 2011 would do just about anything to make it through the entire year, even if it means missing a game here or there.
It’s worth it until the problem is fixed once and for all, and I don’t think you need to be a doctor to figure that out.