Warrener sidelined by MCL

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

As many teams scrambled to add defensive depth to their rosters yesterday, the Calgary Flames lost a little of theirs.

It wasn't via a trade. Rather, the Flames announced they'll be without Rhett Warrener's services for up to four weeks.

Warrener wrenched his right knee during a hit on Nashville Predators captain Greg Johnson at centre ice during the Flames' 3-1 loss at the Saddledome Tuesday.

The rugged defenceman crawled along the ice, got to his feet then collapsed on the bench before being helped to the dressing room.

Initially reported as a charleyhorse by the team, Warrener's MRI Wednesday proved otherwise.

"Rhett's got an MCL (injury)," said assistant coach Jim Playfair after the morning skate. "Probably going to be two to four weeks, hopefully, and not a whole lot longer than that."

Losing the physical, stay-at-home presence Warrener provides won't be easy. Cale Hulse, whom the Flames acquired Feb. 28 for minor-leaguer Cam Severson, will fill in.

"Rhett's certainly developed into a really solid player for us," said Playfair. "Not only on the ice but in the dressing room and around our team with his work ethic and his leadership qualities. Other players are going to have to pick that up and Cale Hulse is responsible to come in now and be a real solid player for us."

The Flames now have just six healthy bodies on the blueline. Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold, Dion Phaneuf, Andrew Ference, Bryan Marchment -- who recently returned from a serious knee injury of his own -- and Hulse.

Roman Hamrlik, who has played just 33 games this season because of hand and knee injures, has practised with his teammates but still doesn't have much strength in his left hand after undergoing surgery shortly after suffering a broken bone Jan. 29.

Playfair, whose sentiments were later echoed by GM/head coach Darryl Sutter, expects Hamrlik to provide a boost when he returns.

"He'll be another player that in the near future is going to be ready to go," Playfair said of Hamrlik. "He's going to have to support a lot of our back end's responsibility."


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