Playing through pain is one thing; playing with a bad shoulder is another matter altogether.
Hampered by a shoulder injury since very early in the season, Lukas Sutter played his final WHL game with the Red Deer Rebels in a 7-1 loss Monday at Calgary.
Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter decided Tuesday that his nephew, whom he acquired from the Saskatoon Blades last summer, was only hurting himself by putting off needed surgery and would be shut down for the season.
“It was my decision,” said Sutter. “He wanted to give it another shot when he came back last week although the recommendations from the doctors were that he not play again this season and have the surgery done.”
The overage forward, who produced 10 goals and 23 points in 45 games as a Rebel, twice this season was out of the lineup for long stretches with the shoulder ailment. The second-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in the 2012 NHL entry draft returned from his last leave of absence Feb. 12 versus visiting Medicine Hat and played in three games prior to Tuesday’s decision.
“Lukas came back and left it up to me as far as where I thought his play would be,” said Sutter. “After watching him for three games, I just thought it was holding him back and the other night in Calgary it was pretty evident that we needed to shut him down for the season and for him to move forward with the surgery.”
Sutter’s shoulder popped out while he was the Blades during the Memorial Cup tournament last spring.
“But he rehabbed it all summer and he said it felt good during our training camp and Winnipeg’s camp,” said Brent Sutter. “Then in the fourth game of the season it came out on him again. He went through rehab, came back and played with a brace until the shoulder forced him out again (during a Jan. 24 game at Saskatoon).
“Everyone kind of knew at that time that we was going to need reconstructive surgery, it was just a matter of whether he could play through the year. He wanted to rehab it first and then it came down to whether Lukas wanted to give it another shot. From there I had to make a call and I could see after three games that it was really bothering him and holding him back.”
Sutter never played up to expectations during his time in Red Deer and the reason is now clear.
“The brace, especially, affected his play,” said Brent Sutter.
“It really restricts what you can do and it did affect him. But full credit to Lukas. He played through all of that and showed a lot of grit.
“Now he can have the surgery and be ready to go next September or October wherever he winds up playing. At least he’ll have had his shoulder fixed and gone through the proper rehabilitation.”
Sutter has yet to sign a contract with the Jets.