Ottawa Senators head coach DJ Smith expects that Drake Batherson, who was forced to leave Tuesday’s game after being hit by Buffalo Sabres goalie Aaron Dell, will miss an extended period of time with an ankle injury, imperilling his participation in the rest of the season ahead of a packed schedule for the team.
The play Batherson was injured on happened in the first period against Buffalo. After Sabres goaltender Aaron Dell settled the puck behind the net for defenceman Mattias Samuelsson to pick up, the netminder shielded Samuelsson as Batherson came chasing around the net. Dell then proceeded to elbow Batherson, sending him awkwardly feet first into the boards.
Batherson stayed on the ice in visible distress before leaving to go to the dressing room.
“Drake looks like he’s gonna be [out] a lot longer,” Smith said. “Kid has a chance to go to his first All-Star game, it’s a bad play by the goalie. He’s done it before. We’ve seen all the replays. Any other player in the game that does that, you know, you have to go out and face the music. Certainly the league will look at whatever. But it’s a bad play.”
The full extent of Batherson’s injuries are not known at this time.
After the game, Dell insisted he did not intend to cause any harm on the play.
“I was just trying to buy some time for my defenceman and step into his lane,” Dell said. “I hope he’s all right. I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody.”
Still, Dell, who was not penalized on the play, has a history laying out that type of hit. In 2019, he took out Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone in nearly identical fashion back when he manned the crease for the San Jose Sharks.
“Quite frankly, it’s a bull s— play,” Brady Tkachuk, Batherson’s teammate, said. “It sucks.”
The Senators extracted some measure of retribution on the scoreboard, with Tyler Ennis recording a hat-trick to lead the club to a 5-0 win.
Batherson, before getting injured, was credited with a goal. Alex Formenton also scored for Ottawa while Matt Murray made 32 saves for his third win of the season and 14th career shutout.
But the loss of Batherson will linger long after the rush of a five-goal win.
In 31 appearances for the Senators, he had 13 goals and 21 assists, earning his first-career nod to the NHL All-Star game — an honour it appears he will no longer be able to take part in.