November 12, 2012
Senators defenceman Jared Cowen to undergo season-ending surgery for hip injurySetback deals crippling blow to club's plans, hopes if lockout ends
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - The Senators will have a big hole to fill on the blueline if the NHL resumes playing this season.
League sources confirmed to the Sun late Monday that defenceman Jared Cowen is gone for the season with a hip injury he suffered last month during a stint with the club’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton.
The Senators’ news release only declared Cowen “will require a surgical procedure,” and GM Bryan Murray wasn’t prepared to offer any further comment. There likely won’t be an update anytime soon.
The 21-year-old, 6-foot-5 Cowen is coming off a standout season in which he emerged as one of the club’s top four blueliners. Now in the second year of his entry-level contract, he will collect his $67,500 AHL salary while recovering from the injury.
Cowen suited up for only three games this season. He was injured Oct. 6 in a game against the Albany Devils and hasn’t returned since. The B-Sens insisted they were holding him out for precautionary reasons.
But when the injury didn’t show improvement the way the Senators expected, Cowen was sent for further examination. It’s believed the recovery time is usually 4-6 months, so it would be difficult for him to return this season.
The Senators won’t confirm the time frame until the surgery is performed and they learn just how much damage there is to the hip. Cowen had ACL surgery in 2008-09, but this injury isn’t nearly the same.
This is a tough blow for Cowen, who admitted that playing in Binghamton this season was “a step down” after establishing himself as an NHL blueliner.
He didn’t have a choice with his contract status, but admitted during camp in September he hadn’t planned to return to the AHL after helping the B-Sens win the Calder Cup in 2011.
“I talked to the guys. The main message was: ‘You’re just lucky to be playing and not having to go to a different continent to play.’ It’s less of a hassle,” said Cowen at the time. “But, you know, it’s a step down and you want to make strides forward, so I guess that’s the down part of it. But, it’s nice to be in the organization and able to play.”
The Senators were counting on Cowen to help anchor their blue line.
There isn’t any guarantee of NHL games this season, but everybody is still hopeful the league and NHLPA will get a collective bargaining agreement in place.
Under coach Paul MacLean, Cowen would have gotten a chance to play an even bigger role than last season and the Senators need his big body to be a presence, especially with the departure of Matt Carkner to the New York Islanders.
To bolster their blue line, the Senators acquired Marc Methot from the Columbus Blue Jackets for winger Nick Foligno and signed Mike Lundin as a unrestricted free agent
Cowen’s injury could mean Ottawa native Mark Borowiecki has a better chance to make the club in camp.
If the Senators decide they could be rushing Borowiecki, Murray could acquire a defenceman once the CBA is in place and teams know what they can spend under the salary cap.
Cowen, meanwhile, faces a long road back. He won’t receive his NHL salary of $1.265 million while he’s injured, but will be fortunate that he’ll have access to the club’s facilities in Ottawa while recovering.
Once he’s had time to recover from the surgery, Cowen will work with Senators athletic therapist Gerry Townend, director of player development Randy Lee and strength coach Chris Schwarz to begin his rehabilitation program.
Fortunately for Cowen, he’s young and there’s a lot of time left in his career. This won’t be a huge setback, but if the Senators do play this season, then it’s going to be a test for the club to get to the playoffs without him.