The Vancouver Canucks have lost veteran centre Manny Malhotra for the rest of the season with a serious eye injury.
Malhotra was injured last Wednesday against Colorado when a pass deflected off the stick of Colorado defenceman Erik Johnson into his eye.
The 30-year-old, who does not wear a visor, needed surgery that night and questions remain about the long-term quality of his vision.
“Following an initial procedure and continued treatment it has been determined through consultation with team doctors and specialists that Manny Malhotra will not return to the Canucks lineup for the remainder of this regular season and playoffs,” the team’s statement said.
Losing Malhotra is a serious blow to the NHL’s leading team.
Malhotra was signed to a three-year, $7.5-million free agent contract last summer to anchor a checking line.
He was second in the NHL at 61.7 per cent on faceoffs and key to Vancouver’s penalty killing improving from 18th in the league to second at the time he was hurt.
Malhotra, who had 11 goals and 30 points in 72 games, had a large white bandage over his face as he left a meeting with his teammates before practice Saturday.
NBA star Steve Nash, Malhotra’s brother-in-law, said later Saturday afternoon there is concern about “possibly permanent vision” damage.
“That’s scary,” the Victoria native said at halftime of the Major League Soccer debut of the Vancouver Whitecaps, a team he partially owns.
“I know he’s a very tough guy and a great person but we’re all just thinking about him and really worried and hoping he can come back, not only to play hockey but just get his vision back and be comfortable and live the life he deserves to live.”