Leetch and Blackburn Injured Before Season


Greenburgh, N.Y. — Training camp is still three days away, but the Rangers’ run of misfortune is already in midseason form.

Brian Leetch hobbled around the MSG Training Center on crutches Monday, the result of being struck by a puck on his left ankle in the same spot where he was hit in a game last season. That perplexing injury, a bruised ankle tendon that refused to heal, kept Leetch out for 31 games, and that was with him in midseason condition. Barring a speedy recovery, Leetch will miss the start of the regular season on Oct. 10 in Minnesota.

The worst part is that this injury was avoidable. Leetch has worn a protective brace on the ankle since he returned to action in February, but he was not wearing it on Friday during an informal skate here with a few teammates in town early. He was trying out a new pair of skates when the shot off Bobby Holik’s stick hit Leetch. He knew it was the same spot that had been hit and skated off immediately, hoping the ankle would not hurt like it did last season. No such luck, naturally.

“This is something that never should have happened,” said Leetch, who has the ankle wrapped as if it were broken and is wearing a boot.

“I guess we’re better prepared this time, as far as keeping off it and doing as little as possible on it. But to have it happen at just the wrong time, skating around with a few guys, it’s frustrating.”

Leetch said he plans on attending training camp, but skating during the five-day camp is not possible. So he will already be behind his teammates in terms of on-ice conditioning whenever he returns.

“This is why you’ve got to have eight [defensemen],” said GM/coach Glen Sather said. “There’s no telling how long he’ll be out.”

Sather made re-signing Leetch a priority this summer, and the two-year, $13-million deal Leetch signed on July 30 seemed to ensure Leetch would be the centerpiece of the Rangers defense for at least a couple more seasons. After missing those 10 weeks last season, he was far and away the team’s best player over the final 22 games, with eight goals and six assists.

Leetch said Monday that he has tried not to think about how much time he missed with the same injury barely eight months ago. “It has to heal quicker this time,” he said. “It’s a setback since you want to be ready for camp. I’ve got to be back sooner.”

Perhaps the only positive news is that 20-year-old prospect Fedor Tjutin has a better chance to crack the veteran lineup with a defense slot open, at least for now.

The Rangers are already planning on a season without Pavel Bure, who is scheduled to report Wednesday for Thursday’s physical exams but is not expected to play a second with a right knee in need of a third ligament reconstruction. Dan Blackburn is not in the Rangers plans either – he is ticketed for some needed development time at Hartford -– but he too is on the shelf indefinitely after a freakish offseason injury.

Blackburn has a damaged nerve in his left shoulder, suffered while lifting weights last month at the team’s development camp in Calgary.

The 20-year-old goaltender now has no shot to challenge recently acquired Jussi Markkanen to be No. 1 goalie Mike Dunham’s backup.

29 Responses to Leetch and Blackburn Injured Before Season

  1. avsfan19-33 says:

    good job copying and pasting

  2. mikster says:

    I figured after SIX submissions for this news, this being the 7th, i should post it.

    Yeah, Leetch is a major injury. Rangers went 10-16 and something ties without Leetch. With Leetch, they were over .500 and allow 2 goals or less (with Dunham) in 16 straight games.

    In a way, it gives Tjutin or Lampman more ice time during trianing camp and pre-season. In a way it’s bad since Sather doesn’t get to see Leetch pair up with de Vries.

    As for Blackburn…let me say this. I already got pissed off at Burce Garrioch and his pathetic hockey knowledge for saying that all the Rangers have is Dunham and Blackburn.

    HELLO!? Leetch rights traded to Edmonton for Markkanen?

    Then Detroit News pisses me off for also saying that the Rangers would not go with Dunham and Blackburn.


    Then, TSN.ca has that most retarded poll i have ever seen. “Who should start for the Rangers? Dunham or Blackburn?”

    HELLO!? Markkanen was acquire so Blackburn could DEVELOP IN THE MINORS AND LET DUNHAM START!

    So anyway….

    It slows down his development, which sucks the big one. A pinch nerve could keep him out for weeks at the very least and months at the most.

    Still, the Hartford Wolfpack should not fear. Rangers drafted 7th rounder Henrik Lundqvist who is currently the best goaltender in Europe as he dominated at every level his played, at only 22 years of age. He i snow 23 and may feel he is ready to play in North America. It takes time to get used to, but he should be able to make it.

    Blackburn had no shot at taking the back up role, it was Markkanen’s right from the start.

  3. B-man says:

    Although this sucks, hopefully Leetch will have a speedy recovery and come back after a week or two. As for blackburn, he wasn’t gonna play this season anyways, so its not that big of a deal. GOOOO RANGERS!!!!!

  4. wheresthesoda says:

    i gotta say, this really sucks.

    leetch is the rangers best player.

    hopefully he will be back in october.


  5. rangerfan2000 says:

    Yes, I did copy and past. And yes, I credited the source as I should. It was news worthy so I submitted it.

  6. rangerfan2000 says:

    Yes, I did copy and paste. And yes, I credited the source as I should. It was news worthy so I submitted it.

  7. jofa says:

    He listed sources and made no attempt to pretend it was “his” article. Why does he need to paraphrase the entire thing in his own words if the article says it all?

  8. jofa says:

    The Holik acquisition just keeps getting better and better. Not only does he fail to meet expectations on the ice, but then he also manages to take out the Ranger’s #1 defenseman. Maybe the unibrowed one is a New Jersey double agent.

  9. rangerfan2000 says:

    Yep, I agree. Leetch’s injury sucks for the Rangers. But it also makes room for a guy like Tjutin to step in his spot for a little bit. I hope Leetch isn’t out for more than a month, he is an important piece to the puzzle. As for Blackburn, you are right. He is going to be Hartford bound. Rangers abused him last year but starting him for 19 games in a row before they figured out he was too inexperienced to be starting so many games in a row like that. Any rookie goalie would get tired after a while for playing that many games in a row, which is why they got Dunham to begin with. They wanted a goalie with experience who can handle that workload. Now Dunham has a good backup too, so things should be a little different. Rangers started Dunham too much last year in back to back situations because they didn’t feel comfortable with Blackburn starting another game. One or two years in Hartford should be enough for Blackburn.. but this is the Rangers, so they will probably trade him away for some veterans.

  10. Gforce says:

    No wonder no-one but the ranger signed him…he’ll be out until feb,,

  11. Sands says:

    Well I hear ya mikester. calm down bro. What the hell thoght i saw that on TSN.ca too… it’s so stupid. but anyways…… Sucks…. Leetch is a main key player. To not see him in the linup in camp will hurt the rest of the D, mainly bcause now we won’t see the real pairings till he get’s back.. that means…. bad D again for the start of the season… what a pain in the asssssssssssssss

  12. swedishvoice says:

    So when will my Devils pices get posted… Gromp gromp…

  13. titans says:

    How bout’ now Strangers fans!?!? Still excited for the upcoming season?!?!

  14. swedishvoice says:

    Mikster Wrote “Still, the Hartford Wolfpack should not fear. Rangers drafted 7th rounder Henrik Lundqvist who is currently the best goaltender in Europe as he dominated at every level his played, at only 22 years of age. He i snow 23 and may feel he is ready to play in North America. It takes time to get used to, but he should be able to make it.”

    Stefan Liv is the best goaltender in Europe, Henrik Lundqvist only came second… Just a pointer.

  15. habsoverserver says:

    The news matters since it will likely cause the Rangers to bring in another body on defense. Blackburn was not expected at camp so it does not change the near term goaltending situation.

  16. swedishvoice says:

    Hey I was grumping on Mikster not on you *s*

  17. mikster says:

    Meh, hehe. We need better Devils pieces.

  18. mikster says:

    Latest report, forgot where, is Henrik is the best. Liv was not on the national team either, Salo Tellqvist Lundqvist. And, Lundqvist lead his team to the its first championship in 37 years with superb numbers.

    Liv may have been the best, but Lundqvist is taking over that spot. At least, that’s what’s been said here. Maybe in Sweden it’s the other way around 🙂

  19. mikster says:

    They have youngsters to use on defense, and if they don’t pan out yet, then he may get a d-man.

  20. habsoverserver says:

    Youngsters can’t run the powerplay.

  21. Dynamo710 says:

    about as excited as you were today when you got your first pube

  22. Kashin says:

    Agree with you 110%. A key to a developing NHL player is games played anywhere. ANYWHERE. A goalie on a bench in my eyes is closer to a health scratch then a starting goalie.

    As for Leetch. Ha rangers are horrible.

  23. mikster says:

    Tell that to the Wild 🙂

  24. titans says:

    Thats just foul.

  25. GretzNYR99 says:

    I really don’t think the Asslanders look too much better. Especially with Garth not having his huge pads this year. 😉

  26. GretzNYR99 says:

    Why don’t you just give up?

  27. GretzNYR99 says:

    Did Dmitri Yushkevich sign with Yaroslavl? Because if he didn’t, Sather should be offering him what he wants right now. We need a quality defender to step in, Leetch is possibly the biggest loss we can suffer.

  28. habsoverserver says:

    The Wild finished 23rd at 14.2% powerplay efficiency in the regular season. The Rangers finished 15th at 16.2%.

    Your point was?

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