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McKenzie: Michalek injury fits the profile of major ACL damage

Bob McKenzie
3/23/2010 8:38:28 PM
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No one is about to confirm or deny it, but the knee injury to Ottawa's Milan Michalek looks suspiciously like it could fit the profile of major ACL damage.

For starters, the video doesn't lie. The knee was not meant to bend at such a severe angle and whip like it did when he crashed into the goalpost.

The fact he tried to skate on it the next day, initially thought to be an encouraging sign, actually quite often means the exact opposite. When a player suffers MCL damage, the two to four week variety, or maybe four to six or six to eight, the MRI details the precise damage and the prescription is rest. To skate on an injured MCL can only make it worse so very few players even attempt to skate after the initial trauma.

But when a player blows out his ACL, which ultimately requires extensive surgery and rehab (anywhere from six months to a year in some cases), tolerance to pain is the critical factor in whether a player can come back and play with the injury and without the ACL. The ACL stabilizes the entire knee but it is possible to compete without one, although a strong brace must be used to effectively replace the torn ACL.

The only prognosis anyone got from the Senators was that he would miss a couple of weeks, would try to come back at that point with a brace and that surgery may ultimately be required.

It sounds like a textbook profile of major ACL damage.

No one would know better than Michalek himself. He has undergone three major knee reconstructions for ACL damage. All three surgeries were to Michalek's right knee. The injury this time is on the left knee.

In fact, due to complications from one of those surgeries, Michalek had severe problems with an infection that led to a doctor in the Czech Republic suggesting amputation. Michalek, then a member of the San Jose Sharks, came back to North America and was able to save both his leg and his career.

It sounds like Michalek will have a shot at playing again for the Senators in the regular season but it also sounds a lot like he may be looking at yet another off-season of knee surgery and rehab.

Bob McKenzie

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