January 4, 2010
Double-whammy for LeafsGrabovski, Primeau both injured in Calgary
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI AGENCY
Mikhail Grabovski was looking forward to his first trip to the Olympics as part of Team Belarus.
Wayne Primeau was starting to think the injury woes that had slowed his career were a thing of the past.
That all changed over one night at the Calgary Saddledome when both Maple Leafs centres were injured in Saturday night’s 3-1 loss to the Flames.
Grabovski suffered a broken wrist on his second shift of the game when he collided with Calgary’s Nigel Dawes and is expected to be out of the lineup for six weeks, which obviously puts his participation in the Vancouver Olympics in serious doubt.
Primeau, who was hampered by an ankle injury during his previous two seasons in Calgary, suffered a knee injury in the third period and is expected to be gone for two to four weeks.
While the losses are significant — Grabovski was most often on the top two lines and Primeau was one of the Leafs’ stronger players over the past few weeks — at least the club has options.
John Mitchell, who has missed the past 20 games with a knee injury, is due to return for tomorrow’s game against the Florida Panthers. Rickard Wallin, who was a healthy scratch in Calgary, could also step back into the lineup.
“I’ve just got to take the next couple of days to prepare and make sure I’m ready,” said Mitchell, who had two goals and seven assists in the 22 games he played before the injury. “We’ve got half a season left, that’s how I have to look at it.
“It’s unfortunate I got hurt at the time that I did, but I’m just looking forward to getting back in the lineup and contribute as much as I can to get us into the playoffs.”
Grabovski is tied for fifth in team scoring with seven goals and 18 assists and had dressed in all 42 games. For a team that is struggling to find some offence, the loss of the speedy centreman stings.
Primeau had a pair of goals and three assists in 35 games but was one of coach Ron Wilson’s most defensively reliable centres and one of the team’s plus-minus leaders (at plus-1.)
The Leafs also are expected to get some injury relief on defence soon when Carl Gunnarsson returns, possibly within the week. The rookie Swede was impressive in his eight-game stint before being sidelined with an elbow injury.