The season isn’t even two weeks old and already the Dallas Stars have been decimated by injury.
Already dealing with the absences of Patrick Sharp, Mattias Janmark, Jiri Hudler, Ales Hemsky, Patrick Eaves and Cody Eakin — also known as half of their regular forwards — the Stars found out Monday that they could also be without Jason Spezza for a period of time. How long exactly is unknown, but Spezza, 33, is questionable for Tuesday’s game due to an injury he suffered Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“(Spezza) left practice with something he irritated last game," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said, per the team’s website.
There were no specifics about Spezza’s injury, but him being sidelined for any length of time, even just one or two games, would be an absolute headache for a Dallas team that cannot wait to get healthy.
Spezza remained one of the only entirely healthy members of the Stars’ top six at this point in the season, and he had been leaned on heavily by Ruff. After averaging 17:13 and 16:31 over his first two seasons in Dallas, Spezza had started this campaign on the top unit and was playing nearly 19 minutes per game. In five games, he had notched two goals and three points, too, and that makes his questionable status a serious blow.
Were Spezza the only Stars player on the shelf, the impact would likely be significantly less, but it’s the timing of the injury that makes his ailment so troublesome.
The injury issues for the Stars began before the training camp had even started. Over the course of the off-season, captain Jamie Benn was sidelined with a core muscle injury, sniper Tyler Seguin was forced out of the World Cup due to a foot injury and Cody Eakin found himself on the shelf long-term due to a knee injury. The injuries continued to roll in as the season approached, and it wasn’t just slight knocks.
Janmark, for example, will be out at least five months with a knee injury. Hemsky has been placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. Sharp is dealing with a concussion and has yet to return to the ice since taking a jolt from Los Angeles Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb on Oct. 20.
Thankfully Benn and Seguin are back healthy and in the lineup, but if Stars players keep dropping like this, expect Dallas’ top six to look a lot more like its bottom six by next week. That would be about the worst possible news for a team as reliant on scoring ability as the Stars.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.