CHICAGO — Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Brian Campbell is expected to miss seven to eight weeks with collarbone and rib fractures suffered when he was hit from behind by Alex Ovechkin.
Dr. Michael Terry, the head team physician for the Blackhawks, said in a statement Tuesday that Campbell will likely avoid surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.
That timeframe suggests Campbell could return late in the second round or early in the third round of the playoffs, should the Blackhawks make it that far.
Ovechkin drove Campbell into the boards from behind in the first period of Washington’s 4-3 overtime win Sunday and received a major penalty and a game misconduct.
The NHL suspended Ovechkin for two games Monday.
Earlier, Ovechkin issued a statement saying he is disappointed by the punishment because he never intended to injure Campbell.
The Capitals superstar, who is serving his second league ban this season, also says he won’t change his game because of the discipline.
“I am very sorry that Brian was injured and I hope he is able to return to his team soon,” Ovechkin said in a statement released through the Capitals. “NHL hockey is a physical game. We all play hard every time we are on the ice and have battles each shift in every game we play so we can do our jobs and win.
“As players we must accept responsibility for our actions and I am no different but I did not intend to injure Brian and that is why I was disappointed with the NHL’s decision (Monday).”
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau agreed.
“I just know there was no malice intended,” Boudreau said. “He didn’t go to hurt him. He went to hit him, and he hit him, but the hit didn’t cause the damage. The boards caused the damage.”
The NHL’s leading scorer began serving his suspension Tuesday at Florida and will also miss Thursday’s game at Carolina before he can return Saturday at Tampa Bay.
“It’s always tough to lose your best player,” Boudreau said. “But we’re a very good team. He is the MVP and all of those things … and we can’t replace him, but we’ve still got three good offensive lines, because we’re an offensive team, and we’re playing well. I’m hoping the guys will pick it up for him again.”
Ovechkin’s first suspension was also for two games, handed down Dec. 1 for a knee-to-knee hit on Carolina defenceman Tim Gleason.
He insists he’s not a dirty player.
“Every time I have the honour to play for my team, I will continue to do what I have done since I was taught to play,” said Ovechkin. “I will play hard, play with passion and play with respect for my teammates, opponents and fans. I look forward to returning to my team and doing everything I can to be the best player I can be.”