Good news for Canada's Getzlaf

Injury likely won't keep forward from Olympics

By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency



VANCOUVER - Ryan Getzlaf - and a lot of Canadian hockey fans - can breathe a sigh of relief.

It doesn’t look like an injury to the lower leg of the Anaheim Ducks centre will be serious enough to keep him off the Team Canada roster next week.

An MRI Tuesday revealed no significant damage to his ankle, which he injured Monday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

He is listed as day-to-day and hopes to play in one of the Ducks games this weekend before the NHL will break for two weeks for the Olympics.

“We have a few days to see how he feels,” Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman wrote in an e-mail to QMI Agency. “It isn’t as serious as first feared, but still questionable if he will be ready.”

“My ankle feels much better today and I’m relieved the test showed no significant damage,” said Getzlaf after learning of the results of the MRI. “My goal is to return to the ice this week for the Ducks, and I look forward to joining Team Canada for the Olympics on Monday.”

Getzlaf, slotted for a second-line centre spot, was concerned after a rough night Monday. X-rays were negative after Getzlaf’s leg folded underneath him after getting involved with the Kings’ Dustin Brown early in the second period. He was wearing a protective boot when he left the rink and when he spoke to reporters Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, Getzlaf said he was concerned after having to leave the game. “(Monday) night was pretty ugly at times and painful. The swelling reacted perfectly. There is not much swelling in it.”

Yzerman has until Sunday night to submit the 23 names that will make up Team Canada’s roster.

Team Canada plays its first game at the Olympic tournament next Tuesday against Norway.

One of the lessons learned four years ago in Italy was to not depend on battered players, so Getzlaf will have to prove to Yzerman he is pretty close to being capable of performing at the peak of his powers for inclusion.

“It’s definitely hopeful,” Getzlaf said of being good to go come Monday when Team Canada will assemble here for its first practice. “I had a talk with Steve Yzerman already. He made it pretty clear that they were going to do everything they can to wait and make sure that it is well. At the same time, he has to protect his team too.

“I’m definitely not going to go play in a tournament that I’m not ready to play in, especially a tournament of that calibre. For me, it’s a dream come true to play in a tournament like that and I’m going to do everything possible to be there.”

If Getzlaf can't prove that he is ready to perform at close to 100 percent, Yzerman and his management team have some strong options. It’s believed Philadelphia Flyers forward Jeff Carter is high on Team Canada’s list as a substitute. Getzlaf was projected as a second-line centre type.

They could move Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes up to that spot with, say, Corey Perry, Getzlaf’s teammate with the Ducks.

Other players to get consideration should be a trio from the Tampa Bay Lightning: Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier, who’s recovered from a slow start which cost him consideration the first time around.

Tampa’s Steven Stamkos, just 20, is third in goal scoring among Canadians in the NHL, but had youth and a slow December (in which he scored just four of his 32 goals) against him.

Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins could give Team Canada size in the middle they would lose without Getzlaf.

FACT BOX

If Team Canada were to run into an injury at the forward position, these are potential replacements:

1. Jeff Carter, C, Philadelphia Flyers. A 46-goal scorer last season, he got off to a slow start, but has six goals in his last 10 games.

2. Jordan Staal, C, Pittsburgh Penguins. Brings a lot to the table, size, the ability to kill penalties and he’s got a Cup under his belt.

3. Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning. Has inexperience against him, but has one of the game’s great releases.

4. Martin St. Louis, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning. Strong all season, he’s sizzling now with a six-game point streak (five goals, three assists).

POLL