Edmonton Oilers phenom rookie Connor McDavid was expected to undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a broken left collarbone, with a recuperation period expected to stretch into months.
“He’ll be out indefinitely,” Oilers general manger Peter Chiarelli told a news conference at Rexall Place.
“We’re talking about months. We don’t have a particular time frame, but as I said, plural, months. There will be plates and screws involved (in the surgery).”
McDavid was injured Tuesday night in the Oilers’ 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Racing down the left wing toward the Flyers goal late in the second period, with Flyer defenders Brandon Manning and Michael Del Zotto beside him, McDavid appeared to lose the edge on his skate.
The trio fell and plowed hard into the end boards.
McDavid struggled to his feet and skated slowly to the bench.
“He didn’t have much to say (after the game),” said Chiarelli.
“He was upset. He loves to play the game and he won’t be playing it for a while.”
He said McDavid has age and character on his side.
“The silver lining is that he’s young, he’s a strong kid mentally and physically, he’s still developing so he’ll come back probably even stronger,” Chiarelli said.
“In my experience with these significant injuries with younger players they come back stronger.”
McDavid went down in the 13th game of his rookie season, but in that time he had already established himself as one of the key players and catalysts on the Oilers.
McDavid has five goals and 12 points in 12 games this season. He was named rookie of the month for October.
The Oilers are 5-8 and fighting to return to the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
“Injuries are a part of a hockey but to be out that long this early in his career, I’m sure he’s pretty heartbroken,” said winger Taylor Hall, the Oilers’ leading goal scorer.
“We’re going to try and be there for him and make sure that he gets through it well.”
It’s the latest in a string of injuries to key Oilers, including winger Jordan Eberle (shoulder) and defenceman Justin Schultz (back).
Eberle is close to returning, and head coach Todd McLellan said the team will soldier on.
“We’ve played without key people. Now we’ll play without Connor,” said McLellan.
Some fans took to social media to criticize Manning for appearing to grab McDavid on the way down.
McLellan said he didn’t see it that way.
“It’s a hockey play. You could watch it 100 times and there’s nothing dirty about it,” he said
“When the pile of three went down it was self-survival. All three of them were in a dangerous situation with the boards coming at them very quick.
“(McDavid) caught a rut or he lost an edge and he went down. It happens.”
It’s the second major injury for McDavid in less than a year.
Last Nov. 11, while playing junior for the Erie Otters, McDavid broke a bone in his right hand in a fight with Bryson Cianfrone of the Mississauga Steelheads.
Drafted first overall this summer by the Oilers, McDavid is touted as the kid with jet speed and soft hands with the potential to be one of the great goalscorers and playmakers in the history of the game.