Cheechoo day-to-day after MRI reveals knee sprain

Updated: April 12, 2007, 7:33 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

San Jose Sharks leading goal-scorer Jonathan Cheechoo is listed as day-to-day after an MRI on Thursday revealed he has a knee sprain, according to a report on TSN of Canada's Web site.

Right Wing
San Jose Sharks

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2007 SEASON STATISTICS
GM G A PTS +/- PIM
76 37 32 69 11 69

Cheechoo, who needed help getting off the ice after Scott Hartnell collided with him knee-on-knee during Game 1 of the Sharks' first-round series against the Nashville Predators, is listed as "extremely doubtful" for Game 2, but a final decision won't be made until Friday.

Sharks coach Ron Wilson told TSN that Cheechoo wanted to return to Game 1. Wilson said he's confident Cheechoo will play again in the series.

Hartnell was skating when his right leg crashed into Cheechoo's right knee as Cheechoo skated across the ice in the second period. Cheechoo's knee bent at an awkward angle and he slumped to the ice nine minutes into the second period.

Cheechoo, who led the NHL with 56 goals last season, stayed down for a few minutes before being helped off by teammates Joe Thornton and Craig Rivet without putting weight on his injured leg.

Hartnell was given a major penalty for kneeing and left with his second game misconduct in three contests. The Predators are not happy a penalty was called.

Predators coach Barry Trotz studied eight different angles of the collision.

"The more I look at it, the more I realize it's probably not even a penalty. He went to hit him, Cheechoo tried to get out of the way. Unfortunately, they locked knees, and Cheechoo got the worst of it. In terms of the elbow in the face, which I think was claimed, he hit his mouth on the ice," Trotz said.

"When you see it at full speed, you think it's a lot worse," he said.

Wilson didn't agree and pointed out Cheechoo, who had cuts on his left cheek and eyebrow, also lost a tooth.

"Again, ask Barry Trotz if he'd say the same thing if he saw Peter Forsberg or Paul Kariya laying there," Wilson said.

Sharks forward Mike Grier, who helped fill Cheechoo's spot on their top line with Thornton and Milan Michalek, said he thought the NHL was trying to eliminate shots to the head. Pressed on whether the league had addressed the hit, Wilson said he would not comment.

League disciplinarian Colin Campbell also declined to comment on any additional punishment.

"It's such a highly charged area of the game and it gets triply charged, if not 10 times charged, in the playoffs so I don't comment on it at all," Campbell said.

The Sharks are entitled to be very upset at the prospect of losing Cheechoo. He led the Sharks with 37 goals this season, and he came into the playoffs having scored 20 points in 13 games. He has 19 points in 28 playoff games before Wednesday night.

Rookie Joe Pavelski, a healthy scratch for Game 1, or Mark Smith may replace Cheechoo. The Sharks were 9-2-1 when Pavelski scored a goal this season.

"If he's not able to go, whoever it is -- Pav or Smith -- will step in," Grier said. "We'll feel confident with that. It's hard to replace a guy who scores as many big goals as Cheech."

Nashville forward J.P. Dumont, whose second goal with 50.4 seconds left in regulation forced overtime, said he knows Hartnell's hit wasn't intentional and called it a part of hockey.

"That's playoff intensity. You know you're going to get hit. There's a lot of stuff [that] happened after the whistle," Dumont said.

San Jose captain Patrick Marleau said the best revenge would be shaking the Predators' hands after having pulled out the series victory. San Jose has won five straight against Nashville in the postseason, and Nashville faces a crucial Game 2 on Friday night.

Hartnell, who said he has never been suspended at any level, will be ready and waiting if the Sharks want to come after him.

"I'll take a punch to the head or a slash to the back of the leg to put us on the power play. We have a great power play. I'm sure they're smart enough not to take cheap shots. It's a part of the game," Hartnell said of what he called an unfortunate collision.

"They got first shot in the series. We have to get them back here on home ice," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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