Kuba's ankle feared broken

Senators defenceman Filip Kuba during an informal skate at the Sensplex on September 14,2010....

Senators defenceman Filip Kuba during an informal skate at the Sensplex on September 14,2010. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:51 AM ET

It didn't take long for the Senators to have their depth on defence put to the test.

Less than 15 minutes into the second group practice session on Day One of Senators' camp Saturday, veteran defenceman Filip Kuba hit a rut in the Scotiabank Place ice and suffered a right leg injury that could force him to miss the start of the season.

The injury-plagued Kuba left the ice immediately, unable to put any weight on his right leg as he went down the hallway needing assistance. While Kuba was sent for more tests, coach Cory Clouston sounded less than optimistic.

It would appear doubtful that Kuba will be ready to suit up for the opener Oct. 8 against the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Place. The club will have a better idea where his injury stands on Sunday morning.

"We had to play a lot without him last year and, obviously, we may start the season without him," said Clouston. "I guess if you're going to (get hurt), do it at the start of the season, rather than doing it at the end of the year when you're getting ready for the playoffs."

The coaching staff and players had concerns about the ice after the first group (10 a.m.) practised. The second group (noon) -- which included Kuba -- was delayed a few minutes because of the complaints.

Kuba's injury will, however, open an opportunity for playing time. There has been a lot of ink spilled over the fact the Senators have as many as nine blueliners in camp who could suit up this season.

Brian Lee is back for his fourth season, while prospects Patrick Wiercioch and Jared Cowen are pushing for playing time.

But Losing Kuba, who is expected to be paired with sophomore Erik Karlsson, is a blow. Kuba had off-season back surgery after a lingering injury forced him to miss 29 games last season and the first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Things change every day in this game," said Senators assistant GM Tim Murray. "Even when we don't think there's a job opening, it always changes. Every day something happens and with (Kuba) hurt, it's going to open something up."

The injury means Chris Campoli, who has been paired with defenceman Matt Carkner, will likely move into the top four to play with Karlsson.

Lee, meanwhile, who signed a two-year extension last spring, has shown up at camp stronger and ready to battle for playing time.

"I feel great. I feel like I'm in good shape and I'm really looking forward to it," said Lee, who will make $875,000 this year and spent the summer training with former Ottawa winger Matt Cullen in North Dakota.

"I just need to work hard, be aggressive and do the things that I do best. I don't have to worry about contracts and numbers now. I can just play hockey. That's a big relief. I'm looking forward to the year."

Clouston said this is a chance for someone to step up and take Kuba's ice time.

"It's bad luck for him but an opportunity for somebody else to maybe get a longer look and depending on (how serious it is), maybe even start the season with us (for a guy) who may have had to start down in Binghamton."

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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