McDavid expected to be out ‘long-term’ with broken clavicle

Watch as Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid gets injured after crashing hard into boards.

The news can’t get much worse than this, for the Edmonton Oilers and for the game of hockey.

Connor McDavid, on his way to tearing up the league in his rookie season, is out “long-term,” according to Oilers head coach Todd McLellan, with an injury that Sportsnet has learned is a broken clavicle, or collarbone.

The recovery time is unknown, as there are various degrees of severity with an injury such as this. But it is fair to expect McDavid to miss at least the next two months, setting early January as a plausible goal for a return date — best case scenario.

The 18-year-old tabbed as hockey’s next “generational player” was living up to the hype and destined for the Calder Trophy, already having shown the ability to take over National Hockey League games as the youngest player on the ice. Now, his season is on hold with what appears to be an injury that will likely require surgery, though that step is expected to be decided upon Wednesday in Edmonton.

McDavid crashed awkwardly into the end boards Tuesday night, bearing the weight of Flyers defencemen Michael Del Zotto and Brandon Manning late in the second period of Edmonton’s 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. He appeared to lose an edge while driving to the net past the Flyers’ defenders.

“It was a hockey play. Three guys got tangled up in the corner. It’s unfortunate,” a dour McLellan told the media in his post-game address. “It’s an upper body injury that’s going to keep him out long-term. He’s dealing with the trainers and doctors right now. Peter [GM Chiarelli] will tell you more in the morning, but I can tell you it’s going to be long-term.”

What a bummer.

In only a dozen games McDavid had become must-see TV across Canada. Now, we’ll see if the Oilers have advanced to a state where they can handle his loss, or if — as in recent years — the adversity will crush them.

“If he’s out for a bit it’s not going to be good, but we’ll have to find ways to win,” said defenceman Eric Gryba. “He’s not the only player on this team, though he’s a big part of it. We’ll find ways to win.”

McDavid will miss his much-anticipated initial meeting with Sidney Crosby Friday night in Edmonton, as well as a few other upcoming milestones that include his first visit to Chicago on Nov. 8, and almost certainly games at Pittsburgh Nov. 28 and a visit to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Nov. 30.

The crowd at Rexall Place was hushed when McDavid rose from the collision holding his left arm up across his chest, the well-known tell of a shoulder injury. He stayed on the bench until the intermission, but within minutes he was out of his equipment and seen wearing a sling.

It’s a real shame, as McDavid rode a point-per-game pace into his 13th game Tuesday, with five goals and seven assists in 12 games.

“For everybody in here, we feel bad for Connor,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “It’s been a long process getting to this point, for something like that to happen it’s unfortunate. He’s already become a big part of our team, and it’s a loss in that sense too.”

The win pulls Edmonton’s record to 5-8. The Oilers have had a very difficult schedule, starting 0-4, but have gone 5-3-0 since with McDavid behind only Taylor Hall in team scoring.

It’s been a brutal run of injuries in Edmonton already this year, with Jordan Eberle, Matt Hendricks, Justin Schultz and Griffin Reinhart among those who’ve missed multiple games to injury.

Eberle, the Oilers’ best right-winger, has not yet played a game due a shoulder injury that did not require surgery. He is practicing with the team and due back any time.

“You can only take so many crashes into the boards,” Hall said. “I had one tonight. We’ll see what the prognosis is, but you never like to see a guy going in that hard.”

Nugent-Hopkins missed 20 games in his rookie season after harmlessly sliding into the boards one night in Chicago and injuring a shoulder. The injury hung around into his sophomore season, which ended when he had surgery in April of 2013.

Hall had major surgery on his labrum in March of 2012. He had injured the shoulder in late November and nursed it through the next four months before the Oilers shut him down.

While both Hall and Nugent-Hopkins have said that they brought their shoulder problems with them from their Major Junior careers, it’s not yet known if McDavid can say the same thing.

“He’s disappointed,” said McLellan, who spoke only briefly with McDavid after Tuesday’s game. “It’s his rookie year, things are going pretty well, and he wants to be part of the group. He still will be, but he won’t be in the uniform for a while.”

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