The Pittsburgh Penguins have finally provided an update on the statud of Justin Schultz and as many of us feared the news is an unmitigated disaster for the Penguins organization.
According to an official announcement from the Penguins organization on Monday, Schultz suffered a fractured leg during the October 13th match up against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Center in Montreal. This is a devastating injury even in the best of cases but this as it turns out is not one of the better cases and the injury was so severe that it required the talented defenseman to go under the knife. The Penguins have also reported that Schultz had a successful surgery at UPMC Presbyterian on Sunday but now he is going to be out for an extended period of time.
Schultz is now expected to miss the next four months of action, a time line that would see him return to action in mid February at the earliest. Obviously losing arguably your best offensive defenseman for a period of 4 months is never going to be a good time and the Penguins will now have to scramble in order to make up for Schultz's absence for the majority of the regular season.
Schultz suffered the injury during an awkward moment with Montreal Canadiens veteran forward Tomas Plekanec, not a player known for being cheap or dirty and definitely not a player known for taking liberties with the health of his opponents. Schultz, Plekanec's as well as a few other players where involved in a puck battle behind the Penguins net when the puck broke from the pack and landed on Schultz's stick. As Schultz made a successful clearly attempt Plekanec lined him up for a relatively innocent looking body check, but it was just enough to knock the Penguins defenseman off his feet.
The angle at which Schultz fell appears to have been the direct cause of the injury, perhaps the only cause really, as it caused the full weight of his body to come crashing down on his left leg. At the time, based on the video replays, I thought that it had been Schultz's ankle which snapped under the weight of his body but apparently the injury occurred higher up the leg. Either way it looked as bad as it turned out to be today.
Schultz's surgery was performed by Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, the Penguins' head team physician and Dr. Alex Kline and we don't know when Schultz will next be evaluated, but given how long he is expected to be out I would assume that updates will be few and far between until we draw closer to February of 2019. The timing is quite bad for general manager Jim Rutheford who will only get a few days to evaluate his team once Schultz returns just ahead of the National Hockey League's trade deadline, and you would expect that he may try and replace Schultz in the line up before then anyways.
A very tough break for the Penguins to be sure but at this point I'm just hoping that Schultz will make a full and speedy recovery.