Canes Corner

Canes look at options after losing Pitkanen for the year

Posted September 11, 2013

Joni Pitkanen (25) during the Carolina Hurricanes vs. Winnipeg Jets NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C. Friday, March 30, 2012.

— The Carolina Hurricanes announced Wednesday that defenseman Joni Pitkanen will miss the entire 2013-14 NHL season due to a fractured heel that he suffered in last years shortened season.

In anticipation of the worst-case-scenario news that has become reality, the organization acquired two defensemen this off-season. They signed free agent Mike Komisarek from Toronto and traded Jamie McBain to Buffalo for Andrej Sekera.

With the Pitkanen injury, the Hurricanes will head into training camp with Tim Gleason, Justin Faulk, Jay Harrison, Brett Bellemore, Ryan Murphy, Sekara and Komisarek as their top seven on the blue line.

When asked if the team would wait to add another defenseman or actively pursue a trade or free agent, General Manager and President Jim Rutherford said that they are, “Looking at what our options are.”

Rutherford said last week that if Pitkanen was unable to be ready for the season that the team would be willing to go outside of the organization. With training camp starting Thursday, the team does have time to look at what is in the organization as well.

A few names that could be given a longer look in camp are Harvard prospect and Charlotte Checker Danny Biega, Michal Jordan who saw time with the Hurricanes last season and 2009 draft choice Rasmus Rissanen.

Pitkanen injured his heel while trying to get back in time to touch up a puck for icing against the Washington Capitals on April 2, a game the Hurricanes lost 5-3.

The Finnish defenseman has historically been among the league leaders in ice-time per season, usually logging about 25 minutes on the ice per game. During his five seasons with Carolina, he has compiled 24 goals and 116 assists and has been a point man on the team’s top power play unit.

The NHL has been mulling over the idea to change its rules on icing for years -- specifically the situation that will cost Pitkanen an entire season. As of right now, a team can still avoid an icing call by beating the defense to the puck after a pass that crosses center ice and the opposing end line -- which happens a handful of times a season, but several injuries can be linked to allowing this play to go on. The AHL has tested a hybrid no-touch rule, and after this latest season-ending injury, the NHL should rethink how icing is handled today.

There are clear scenarios when a puck is iced that there is no need to continue the play. Without getting into all the intricacies, if a defenseman can cross the face-off dots in his end of the rink before an attacking player, the whistle should blow saving players from unnecessary contact.

But this is the NHL, so there is no guarantee that the powers that be will know how to implement a change that will help the game.

18 Comments

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  • Wags Sep 11, 3:51 p.m.

    Mike, why is it that the Canes are just finding out now that he is gone for the season? You would think that someone would have kept in contact with Pitkanen or his Dr on his progress. It seems as though this is a surprise.

  • caniacman Sep 11, 4:01 p.m.

    From the accounts last week his agent was not keeping the team up with his situation and Pits was overseas all of the off season, so it is hard on them to keep up with him. That said finidng out now is better then later, they should be able to get some salary cap relief with him being on the shelf for the year and may allow them to get Hainesy and Morrow both.

  • sanacito Sep 11, 4:50 p.m.

    I am not in the least bit a Joni fan. With that being said, I do hope he makes a full recovery and can continue his career...just with any other team but the Canes.

    I too find it odd that this is just NOW coming to light. Shouldn't he have had some responsibility in letting the team know about his progress or lack thereof?

  • jscott13 Sep 11, 5:11 p.m.

    This doesn't make sense. How can they know now what his condition will be 4 months from now.

  • Gunnstigator Sep 11, 6:02 p.m.

    I'm surprised that an injury Pitkanen suffered last year will keep him out this entire year- I don't recall the injury being described as serious as it now. The NHL really needs to rethink their icing rules.

  • Cragsdale Sep 11, 7:57 p.m.

    for those wondering why, here is a possible reason they just not have decided to shelf Pitkanen for the year, be cause he wasn't around for the team doctors to assess, and now that he is back in the states and in Raleigh, team doctors and trainers and the coaching staff feel it's best that he take the year off and rehab the foot. Broken Heels don't heal very fast. It's a bad place to break a bone and it can take more than a year for it to set back right and to strengthen the ligaments and Achilles's tendon areas sufficiently so as to not cause addition or even career ending damage.

  • Gunnstigator Sep 11, 8:04 p.m.

    ^^^^^

    Thanks, Cragsdale. It makes sense that the heel would take a long time to heal, as it has to bear a lot of weight. I'm just surprised that we weren't told at the time he suffered the injury how long it would take for Pitkanen to return to the lineup. I remember seeing the replays of that injury and it was obvious he was in a lot of pain. It is a shame that Pitkanen is losing an entire year - for him and the Canes.

  • Cragsdale Sep 11, 9:39 p.m.

    ^^^^^

    Thanks, Cragsdale. It makes sense that the heel would take a long time to heal, as it has... View More

    — Posted by Gunnstigator

    I agree jgunn, I heard back then that he was out for supposedly 6-8 months or more, figured he would make it back for maybe 2nd half of this season. I'm personally not remiss that he's out, as I also am not a fan of his play, and thought often the team could use those funds to progress a younger guy from Charlotte, or to go get a better guy in FA. but that's just personal opinion on the letting him go part lol.

  • possumsoup Sep 12, 5:44 a.m.

    He stays in Penalty Box all time anyway. He want be missed.

  • daveroe77 Sep 12, 7:40 a.m.

    "But this is the NHL, so there is no guarantee that the powers that be will know how to implement a change that will help the game." Completely agree, Mike. Especially when the play Joni was hurt on was meaningless in the grand scheme of things. I found it easy to modify that quote to another aspect of this situation:

    "But this is the 'Canes, so there is no guarantee that Jim Rutherford will know how to implement a change that will help the team."

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