Kaberle out up to six months after surgery

Updated: September 11, 2006, 6:50 PM ET
Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Frantisek Kaberle, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Carolina Hurricanes this year, had shoulder surgery Monday and could miss up to six months.

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Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said the 32-year-old defenseman had the operation in Chicago to repair a lingering injury. He is expected to be out at least four months.

"The shoulder's worn down over time," Rutherford said. "We had hoped that he could rehab it and strengthen it, but that did not happen."

Rutherford said Kaberle told team doctors about a month ago that he had begun feeling better, but "that didn't turn out OK."

Rutherford didn't know which shoulder was injured.

Kaberle is the second high-profile Hurricanes player with a significant shoulder injury. Forward Cory Stillman could miss up to 40 games after having surgery in August to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

"It's part of the price you pay for playing so long and not having a very long offseason to deal with these issues," Rutherford said.

Kaberle's agent, Rick Curran, didn't return a telephone message seeking comment.

Kaberle, who in June signed a four-year contract that will pay him $2.2 million annually, led Hurricanes defensemen last season with a career-high 44 points.

He had six goals and a team-leading 38 assists for defensemen. His power-play goal in the second period of Carolina's 3-1 victory in Game 7 against the Edmonton Oilers clinched the Hurricanes' first Stanley Cup. He had four goals and nine assists in the playoffs.

"You don't replace players like Frank that easily," Rutherford said. "Certainly, when something like this happens, it does open the door to give somebody else an opportunity and some more ice time. We do have good depth at that position, and we have to see who's going to step up and fill in with the loss of Frank."

One option could be David Tanabe, a defenseman who signed a one-year, $900,000 contract last month to return to the organization that drafted him seven years ago.

The Hurricanes, who open training camp on Friday, said free-agent defenseman Cale Hulse will try out for the team. Hulse, 32, had four points in 39 games with the Phoenix Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets last season, his 10th in the NHL.

Hulse has 16 goals, 79 assists and 1,000 penalty minutes during a career which also includes stints with the New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press