John Tavares’ left knee got trapped between Latvian defenceman Arturs Kulda and the boards and the Canadian forward went down in a heap.
Tavares was able to skate off under his own power but won’t be able to help Team Canada go for a spot in the gold medal game. Coach Mike Babcock announced after the 2-1 victory over Latvia that Tavares would miss the rest of the Olympics with a leg injury.
The 23-year-old, who was one of Canada’s best players in the preliminary round despite not registering a point, will be re-evaluated by New York Islanders doctors, according to Babcock.
Babcock did not know if Tavares would be flying home right away or waiting, but he did speak with him.
“He seemed to be in a fine mood, obviously disappointed he’s injured,” Babcock said.
Under IIHF rules for the Olympics, Canada cannot replace Tavares on the roster. This leaves it with 24 players, including 13 healthy forwards.
The injury to Tavares scrambled Canada’s forward lines against Latvia. Patrice Bergeron, who started on right wing with Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby, had to move down to centre the fourth line, while Martin St. Louis at first took over in that spot and on the power play where Tavares was.
By the end of the night, Babcock juggled things around and had Carter skating with Kunitz and Crosby. It’s unclear what Canada’s lines will be for Friday’s semifinal game against the United States.
Tavares joins a handful of NHL stars who were injured enough during these Olympics that they’re likely to miss time when the NHL season resumes. The New York Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello suffered a hand injury while playing for Norway, the Detroit Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg a herniated disc in his back while playing for Sweden, the Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov a knee injury while playing for Finland and the Panthers’ Tomas Kopecky suffered a head injury while playing for Slovakia.
The Islanders’ first game after the Olympic break is at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 27.