Vancouver Canucks captain Mark Messier will miss at least four weeks because of a sprained ligament in his right knee.
Canucks president and general manager Brian Burke called the prognosis "good news," fearing the injury to be more serious. On Tuesday night, the Canucks feared it was a third-degree stain, Burke said.
"We're all optimistic. Everyone knows how courageous he is and how mentally and physically tough he is," Burke said Wednesday. "So hopefully the four weeks is the outside on a player like Mark."
Messier was hurt one minute into Tuesday night's 4-4 tie against the San Jose Sharks.
The injury occurred when Messier, on his first shift of the game, was going to the front of the Sharks net as teammate Peter Schaefer was attempting a wrap-around play.
Sharks defenseman Andy Sutton grabbed Messier from behind and pulled him down. The two fell to the ice with Messier's right leg tangled between Sutton's.
Messier was unable to put weight on his right knee and required help getting to the dressing room. The knee was iced Tuesday night and examined Wednesday.
Last season, the Canucks were 3-16-4 when Messier wasn't in the lineup, including an 18-game stint with a sprained ligament in his left knee.
The 21-year NHL veteran, centering the Canucks' top line, has five goals and seven assists in 15 games this season.
Last month Messier scored his 614th career goal, moving him past Mario Lemieux into sixth place on the career list.
"Mark Messier, he's the leader of this team, on and off the ice," Burke said. "Any injury to him is damaging to our hockey team, more so than it would be to almost any other player."
In Messier's absence, Burke said the rest of the team had to step it up.
"You can look at them (injuries) as problems or look at them as opportunities. And what this is is an opportunity for one of our other centers."
The Canucks don't plan to make a roster move to fill Messier's spot. Instead, they plan to insert little-used rookie center Artem Chubarov into the lineup.
In other news, the Canucks said preliminary results were positive after defenseman Mattias Ohlund underwent surgery to clear the vision in his right eye Wednesday. Ohlund was hit in the eye with a puck in a Sept. 21 exhibition game. After gradually getting bacsome of his vision, the recovery process stopped about two weeks ago, forcing Ohlund to elect for surgery.
"It will take some time to see how his eye reacts, but indications point towards a successful recovery," Canucks doctor Rui Avelar said. "A more definite timeline for his recovery will become clearer as we see how his eye reacts to today's procedure."
Avelar said it's possible for Ohlund to be ready to play by the start of the new year.
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