Feb 20 2014, 8:02pm CST | by Poch de la Rosa
"It was a somber day at Islanders Iceworks, as the team contemplated life without captain John Tavares.
"The Islanders announced Tuesday morning that Tavares sustained an MCL and meniscus tear in his left knee during Wednesday's Olympic quarterfinal between Canada and Latvia. He will miss the remainder of the regular season.
"Tavares will remain in Sochi through the end of the Olympics and will be re-evaluated upon returning to Long Island. With the league's third-leading scorer sidelined for the rest of the season, and their second-line center, Frans Nielsen, out with a broken thumb, head coach Jack Capuano will have to restructure his lines accordingly."
The MCL injury was also verified by Islanders spokesman Kimber Auerbach in an e-mail to ESPN New York's Katie Strang. It reads,"John Tavares has an MCL and meniscus tear in his left knee. He will remain with Team Canada for the remainder of the Olympics and return home after for further evaluation."
A day before Tavares was ruled out for the rest of the NHL season, his head coach with the Canadian men's hockey team in Sochi, Mike Babcock, confirmed to Stephen Lorenzo of The New York Daily News the Islanders captain sustained a left knee injury and will not be able to compete in Canada's remaining games.
Tavares hurt his knee after a check from defenseman Arturs Kulda of Latvia. "Tavares was shaken up immediately and struggled to return to the bench before heading to the dressing room and did not return for the third period," Lorenzo adds.
Strang also stresses the Tavares incident could give NHL owners reason not to send their players off to subsequent Olympic Games.
For instance, two members of the Florida Panthers -- Aleksander Barkov and Tomas Kopecky sustained injuries which will keep them out of the lineup for some time. Barkov has a knee injury of his own and is sidelined for a month while Kopecky was elbowed in the head in a game against Slovakia and is out indefinitely.
Tavares' teammate with the Islanders, Norway's Mats Zuccarello, sustained a hand injury that kept him out of his team's game against Russia. On the other hand, Sweden's Henrik Zetterberg -- who is from the Detroit Red Wings -- was diagnosed with a herniated disk and is also out indefinitely, per Strang.
The loss of Tavares, the NHL's third-leading scorer with 66 points, further compounds the Islanders' woes. They are currently last in the Metropolitan Division with a 22-30-8 record through Feb. 20.
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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