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Monday, October 27, 2008
How Jackets, Wings are coping with key players on injured list


A pair of injuries are worth making note of as we head into the final week of the NHL's opening month.

The Columbus Blue Jackets can ill afford any kind of injuries if they're to challenge for a playoff spot, let alone an injury to their starting netminder. They already have had a half-dozen forwards in and out of the lineup with injuries, including Fredrik Modin and Raffi Torres.

But on Monday, the Jackets had to place goalie Pascal Leclaire on injured reserve with a sprained ankle. Leclaire was second in the NHL with nine shutouts last season.

"That's a difficult thing, but we have no choice but to battle through it," Jackets GM Scott Howson told ESPN.com from Columbus on Monday. "He's going on IR today, so he'll be out at least a week."

At this point, it's not clear exactly how long he'll be out.

"I can't tell you whether it's going to be a longer than a week or whether he'll play in a week," Howson said. "He's going to meet with the doctor again and try and get more information on it."

In the meantime, Fredrik Norrena is the man in goal for the Jackets. He hasn't been all that good during the past year, so this could be a chance for him to regain the team's confidence. What may help his case is that the Jackets hired his personal goalie guru, Perry Elderbroom, as a goalie consultant last week. Not a bad idea.

Prized goalie prospect Steve Mason normally would have been the first option, but he's not ready for this kind of opportunity just yet. After six months of rehab following knee surgery, Mason finally has been cleared to resume his career. He'll do so with Syracuse in the AHL for now. His first AHL start is Wednesday, and he'll have to get some games under his belt.

Meanwhile, the defending Stanley Cup champions were dealt a tough one Saturday night when "The Mule," Johan Franzen, was injured in a knee-on-knee collision.

"Obviously, we were concerned," Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com from Los Angeles on Monday. "We left him behind in Chicago on Saturday night. He flew back to Detroit on Sunday morning and had an MRI. It's a Grade 2 MCL sprain. Right now, the doctor feels it's three to four weeks. We're going to wait two to three days, and if he feels pretty good in two to three days, then maybe we're looking at less time than three weeks.

"If in two to three days he's still pretty stiff, then we're probably looking at three to four weeks and we might consider putting him on LTI so we can get another body up here. So we're going to sit tight here for the next couple of days and see how his knee responds."

LTI stands for long-term injury reserve; it's a place to park a player while he's out long term and save money against the salary cap.

It's important to note that Franzen's left knee was injured, not the right knee, which he sprained last season and which forced him to miss 10 games.

You wonder how this injury might affect Franzen's contract situation. He's in the last year of a deal that pays him $1.15 million, chump change for a player of his caliber. He's slated for unrestricted free agency.

"We've had conversations," Holland said. "He'd like to be here, he loves it in Detroit, and we'd like to keep him. We have to find a way."