Florida says Ekblad had surgery, likely to miss 12 weeks
Florida defenceman Aaron Ekblad had surgery Monday and is likely done for the season.
MIAMI — Florida
The Panthers said that Ekblad will need 12 weeks to recover. They didn't reveal the extent of the damage — hockey teams are rarely specific on injuries, and the team only went as far as to say he had surgery to “repair a fracture in his lower extremities."
But it was evident when he got hurt Sunday night at Dallas that it was a serious matter, and Monday's announcement only confirmed that. The 12-week timeframe means he wouldn't be able to play again until late June at the earliest.
“To be without a player of Aaron’s
The playoffs start in the second week of May, and the Stanley Cup Final will likely begin in late June or early July at the absolute latest. And there's no way of knowing if Ekblad will be ready, even if the Panthers — who haven't won a playoff series since 1996 — make it that far.
“He was great this year," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday. “I think he had so many games where he was dominant defensively, his offensive contributions joining the attack, adding a different dimension to our power play, significant minutes, matchups, controlling the outcomes of games. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Ekblad and MacKenzie Weegar were one of the top
Ekblad got hurt midway through the second period of Sunday's game after a hit from Dallas
He was able to fly home with the team Sunday night. Florida starts a four-game homestand Tuesday against Dallas.
The Panthers are well on their way to the playoffs. At 22-9-4, they're third in the Central Division, only two points entering Monday out of first and 11 points clear of fifth-place Chicago. The top four teams in each division go to the playoffs; Florida has 21 regular season games left, Chicago 20.
“It's going to be tough to do without him," Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau said. “But we're going to be there for him and we're going to support him."
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Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press