Wild captain Mikko Koivu will be shut down without contact the next two weeks after aggravating his left shoulder injury, General Manager Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday night.
Koivu missed his sixth consecutive game Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings with what the Wild had been calling an undisclosed injury. But Star Tribune sources have said for a week that Koivu aggravated a shoulder injury that kept him out of play for eight games from Jan. 17-Feb. 7.
Fletcher confirmed that during Tuesday’s game.
“We weren’t trying to hide his injury. We want to do what’s right and were trying to protect him [from being targeted],” Fletcher said. “He’s trying to do everything he can to get back to play.”
Koivu was initially injured Jan. 14 in St. Louis on a check from Vladimir Sobotka. On Feb. 11 – two games after returning, Koivu aggravated the same injury late in the game when he was tackled by then-Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jeff Carter.
He played two more games in pain before the Wild pulled him from the lineup.
“We were the ones that pulled him out and said no, ‘let’s let this rest.’ He wanted to keep playing because he cares about this team,” Fletcher said. “Mikko did what was in the best interest of the team short term. Now we have to do what’s in the best interest of Mikko long-term.
“His initial injury, he came back very quickly. It was a very aggressive return to play. He deserves a ton of credit. The team is obviously struggling, trying to survive, and he wanted to help.”
On Tuesday, Koivu sought the opinion of a specialist who concurred with other doctors. He cannot face any contact and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
Fletcher wouldn’t say the exact nature of the injury and doesn’t know if he’ll eventually require surgery.
Asked if the team continues to slide if Koivu may be shut down for good, Fletcher said, “It’ll be up to the doctors. I don’t even know if I want to speculate.”
Frankly, I think there's a very good chance it gets to that point. If he has no contact for two weeks, that takes us to March 13. Then he will be re-evaluated. Even if they clear him, he's got to practice before he can come back. The regular season ends April 7. So we will see.
As for the game, it was a weird one. The Wild gave up two, maybe three scoring chances in the first period and they're down 3-zip.
First shot of the game is going 15 feet wide and it's redirected and bounces awkwardly by Niklas Backstrom. The second goal, Mike Yeo said the Wild and Oilers play "very, very different" in this situation and this was a system mishap that Tom Gilbert made after playing years in Edmonton. He didn't fault him at all. He said he was expecting a D-to-D pass behind the net. He should have been in front. When Marco Scandella didn't find Gilbert where he expected him, that's where the mistake occurred. He tried to rim the puck. Anze Kopitar picked it off and found Dwight King all alone in front of the net.
Third goal, Justin Falk got burned by Kopitar. So two breakdowns, one bad bounce, 3-zip. Offensively, the Wild got nothing done. As Yeo said, "collective failure."
“Puck support, battle level, going to hard areas, making plays, executing. It’s kind of a long list,” Yeo said.
Still, this could be a real tough three weeks. In four days, the Wild traded three veteran defensemen. That's left the Wild pretty thin on the back end and there could be severe growing pains for the young D the rest of the year. Not that the Wild has any choice but to deal with it, but that's exactly what the Wild will have to do. The future of Scandella, Spurgeon, Prosser and probably Falk are in Minnesota. They should be back next year, so might as well play em and let them get the experience -- good and bad.
The Wild the Kings to 15 shots yet were blanked because of these breakdowns.
“It was another game when we started on our heels. They took it to us and we didn’t fight back," Brodziak said.
He said there was no emotional toll from the trade of Nick Schultz. "Nothing to do with that. We’re all professionals. It’s a day that happens to 29 other teams in the league. I don’t really know why we came out the way we did."
One thing I did forget to ask because I barely saw it as I was rushing to get the Koivu story written in the third period is Cal Clutterbuck's frustration. After one shift, he absolutely two-handed the boards by the Wild bench as hard as he could -- something he's done a lot lately. Then after taking a penalty, Yeo was clearly trying to settle him down on the bench. So I'll ask about that in Montreal or Kent will at practice tomorrow. Talk to you from Montreal, and again, Kent's on Wednesday.