I do not / Understand / What it is
I've done wrong / Full of holes
Check for pulse / Blink your eyes
One for Islanders Face / Two for Islanders Hip
I've no idea what the hockey gods are on about
Trapped in this body and can't ... get out.
~If Radiohead were Islanders fans
Which Tuesday news is less of a surprise for the Islanders fan -- that Milan Jurcina left practice today with a tweaked hip, or that Doug Weight, skating for months but scratched since Nov. 17 with back issues, is now officially shelved for the season. (Full Newsday Katie Strang post on Weight "leaning" toward retirement is here. [$5 please])
As far as Operation Shutdown (copyright Derek Bell) goes, Weight merely joins Mark Streit (0 games played in 2010-11), Trent Hunter (17 games), Mike Mottau (20 games), Mark Eaton (34 games) and Andrew MacDonald (60 games) [EDIT: plus Kevin Poulin (10)] in the official "Out for the Season" list that is pushing the Islanders man-games lost to injury well north of 500 games -- and that's not even including the massive Bridgeport injury list, which has done its parent justice.
UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: Both Dylan Reese and Mark Katic have been recalled as injury replacements. Viva Bridgeport!
UPDATE 2: Weight describes his condition to the official site:
Due to two small fractures in his lower vertebrae and a slipped disk, the 40-year-old center has nerve damage from the amounting pressure. Not only has he had to deal with pain, but he’s even had moments where his left leg has completely buckled from underneath of him.
“Anytime you’re messing with your back, your vertebrae, your nerves, and what I’ve gone through for about eight weeks now, without any movement… I think you start to realize the importance of (healing the right way),” Weight said.
As many have pointed out, the irony for Islanders fans accustomed to this drill is that hard-luck D-man Radek Martinek is still standing -- knock on wood -- and is on pace to be the Islander blueliner with the second-most games played this year. (He stands at 58 now, two behind Jack Hillen, who has been a past victim of Islanders Face, which we know can recur.)
To be fair, Jurcina is being evaluated and Bruno Gervais -- "doubtful" for tomorrow thanks to a shot off the foot -- is not officially out, but uncertain injuries to both mean there is more Bridgeport reinforcement on the way to join Ty Wishart and Travis Hamonic as recent AHLers on the NHL blueline. The final six games should be interesting for those left standing.
All the More Reason to Praise the Ironmen
Which brings up a point I think of every time a player is struggling or slumping: These guys play through injury when at all possible. MacDonald was dealing with his hip issue since at least February, and would probably still be playing if the Islanders still had a chance at playoffs. Matt Moulson has been a (knock on wood) ironman in both his seasons with the Islanders, and you better believe he's played through knocks, bumps and strains during that time. There's just no way you play that much hockey at that high of a level without fighting through injuries that "luckily" are not breaks or tears. Same to physical Zenon Konopka, this season's other ironman.
Ironically, this may have been Weight's handicap through the latter half of his career: Though a playmaker, Weight never shied -- and in fact thrived -- from physical contact. His first injury-shortened season wasn't until 1998-99 (age 28) when he was limited to 43 games. His next came in 2002-03 (61 games at age 31). He played through debilitating abdominal tears during his time as a St. Louis Blue, and tried to game his way back into the Carolina lineup after separating his shoulder during the 2006 Cup finals.
His career with the Isles, from age 37 to 40, has been limited -- 53 games was the max in 2008-09 -- by a mix of injuries both recurring and new. Anyone who is honest and saw him on opening night this season would concede he was flying around (and collecting three points in 20 minutes of TOI) like, if not the Weight of old, at least the Weight of not-quite-done. The problem is it couldn't last, and didn't. By game 18 his time was up. I don't know a fan who hasn't long assumed Weight would retire after this year, but to every player his own decision at his own time. I'm sure this isn't how he wanted it to end after rehabbing that shoulder all summer to make one more go.
Every team has its share of injuries -- Canucks fans and Red Wings fans probably don't pity our pain right now -- but for Islanders fans it has been a crazy three out of four seasons, and another 500+ game season like this is absurd, even given the wild goalie injury situation. While the blueline has taken the biggest hit, we can at least be thankful the top two lines (excluding Kyle Okposo's half season lost) have remained relatively healthy, providing the majority of this season's high notes.
I've no idea what the hockey gods are doing right now. But maybe, just maybe they have lottery magic in mind, and maybe someday soon the ledger evens out just when the Islanders need it most.
That would almost make this era of Islanders Hip worth it ... right?