New York Islanders captain John Tavares sustained a torn MCL and torn meniscus in his knee Wednesday at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and will miss the remainder of the NHL season.
Tavares may need surgery; he is expected to be ready by training camp in September.
Tavares, playing for Canada, took a hard hit from Latvia defenseman Arturs Kulda in the second period and struggled to get back to the bench before leaving for the dressing room.
WATCH: Tavares suffers knee injury (NBC: US Only)
The center had no points in four games in Sochi but a plus-3 rating and six shots on goal averaging 10:39 of ice time.
He is third in the NHL with 66 points in 59 games this season.
Canada coach Mike Babcock said after the game Wednesday that Tavares would be out for the remainder of the Olympics.
"As a friend that's tough to hear. As a teammate that's tough to hear. Quite frankly, as a fellow Canadian, it's really hard to hear," Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic told his team's website Wednesday after the initial news Tavares would be sidelined.
"He's an important player for that team. You want your best players playing in each scenario. It's unfortunate that John got hurt and things worked out that way. There's a lot of depth on that team and they're going to push forward. On a personal standpoint and a friend point of view, it's tough to see a guy go through that."
Canada, which defeated Latvia 2-1, will play the United States in a semifinal game Friday (noon, NBCSN, CBC). The winner advances to the gold-medal game Sunday.
Yo, Tavares couldn't carry the Islanders with both his legs so what makes you think he will carry them with one next year?
John Tavares won't need surgery, says he'd play in Olympics again
John Tavares returned to Long Island and rejoined his Islanders teammates on Tuesday, bringing with him a gold medal from Sochi and a partially torn MCL.
But all things considered, it's not awful news for Tavares and the Islanders. In meeting with the media, Tavares said that he didn't suffer a full tear of the MCL and as a result won't require surgery. The time frame still still keep him out for the remainder of this season, but at just 8-12 weeks, it shouldn't disrupt next season at all when the Isles get a fresh slate.
With the time frame bleeding into the summer -- going out on the limb here and saying the Islanders aren't making the playoffs -- it should only help Tavares to recover fully. With no pressure to try to return for games this season, there won't be any forcing the issue. He'll have the rest of the season and the summer to recuperate. By the time camp rolls around before next season, the injury should be a thing of the past.
Tavares' injury was another bit of kindling for the fire that is the debate about NHL players and the Olympics. Islanders GM Garth Snow ripped the process after Tavares' injury and while he understands Snow's point of view, Tavares doesn't want to see things change.
"For me as a player, I think it's important for us to play. I think you saw how much we love representing our countries, especially at that level," Tavares said. "But put yourself in his shoes and you can understand why teams are concerned about their players and injuries. Certainly I know he cares a lot about the Islanders and the organization and so do I.
"There's always that concern with this game, there's always that risk when you step on the ice of possible injuries. It's obviously a tough situation but I certainly love playing for my country, and if I got the call again I would."
That's what the argument will come down to in a nutshell is that no matter how the owners feel about it, the players really want to play in the Olympics and they do have a say in the conversation.
In the meantime, the Islanders move on, upset but probably relieved that the news on Tavares could have been much worse.
It's not like management is going to build around him in the future. They don't deserve this kind of a hockey player if they aren't going to supply him with better talent around him.