WASHINGTON, D.C. – It says something about the horror of the incident that the Vancouver Canucks were relieved to learn Tuesday that top defenceman Alex Edler suffered “only” a concussion, broken teeth and deep lacerations when his face smashed into the ice Monday night in Philadelphia.
Canucks coach Travis Green confirmed before Tuesday’s game against the Washington Capitals that X-rays and a CT-scan revealed no facial fractures for the 32-year-old leader of Vancouver’s blue line.
It was a best-case scenario diagnosis for Edler.
“Yeah, it was,” Green agreed. “Obviously a scary incident. The medical staff, I thought, did a great job getting out there as quick as they did. And we’re thankful he’s going to be alright.
“To be honest, I didn’t go back and really look at it again. It wasn’t something I wanted to take a look at over and over. I saw it on the replay quick and saw him hit his face on the ice. It’s always a scary thing to watch, and we’re just thankful it’s (not worse).”
Green said Edler, who spent Monday night in Philadelphia, returned home to Vancouver on Tuesday and will be out at least a week.
Teammate Sven Baertschi, sent home from Denver one day earlier after feeling unwell, missed two months with a concussion this season. Green offered no update Tuesday on Baertschi, but said backup goalie Thatcher Demko would undergo an MRI to determine the extent of knee damage he suffered in the warmup before the Canucks lost 2-1 to the Flyers.
Without another healthy, professional goalie under contract in their organization, the Canucks were allowed to recall junior netminder Mike DiPietro from the Ontario Hockey League on an emergency basis.
The 19-year-old, arguably Team Canada’s most impressive player during its disappointing world junior championship run after Christmas, can stay with the Canucks as long as Demko is out. He backed up Jacob Markstrom on Tuesday.
Extra defenceman Alex Biega was expected to take Edler’s lineup spot against Washington, and the Canucks recalled minor-league defenceman Guillaume Brisebois for depth.
But there really is no replacement for Edler, who leads the Canucks in ice time with an average of 23:23, is first out for both power plays and penalty kills and plays nightly against the opposition’s best forwards.
Edler was injured Monday when his stick hooked on Jakub Voracek as the Flyer went to the net without the puck, causing the Canuck to lose his balance, then consciousness, as he hit the ice sickeningly.
“Last night was one of the scariest things I’ve thing,” Canucks veteran Chris Tanev, Edler’s defence partner, said. “Things happen. Pucks are flying, bodies are flying. It sucks for Alex. He’s such a good guy, such a big part of this team. Hopefully we can get him back as soon as he’s feeling better.”
The Canucks went 4-9-2 when Edler missed 15 games with a knee injury last fall. They are 20-14-4 with Edler in the lineup. The career Canuck is eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1, and his agent, Mark Stowe, last week opened discussions with Vancouver general manager Jim Benning on an extension for Edler.