The Ottawa Senators will be without centre Jason Spezza between six and eight weeks after an MRI determined that the star centre has a torn MCL in his right knee.
The good news for the Senators is that surgery will not be required to repair the injury.
Spezza originally suffered the injury in the dying moments of Tuesday's loss to the Maple Leafs when he got tangled up with Leafs' forward Lee Stempniak during a faceoff. Stempniak appeared to roll over on Spezza's right leg.
The Senators' playmaking centre immediately left the ice and headed directly to the team's dressing room without putting weight on the leg.
"They're kind of giving me that as a timeline right now, but I'm just going to see how it goes and obviously try and get back a little sooner," Spezza told reporters following the Senators morning skate prior to tonight's game against the Sabres. "It's obviously disappointing and whenever you get hurt, it's never a good thing.
"I'm just looking forward now and trying to move forward and get better."
The injury ends any chance that Spezza had of suiting up for Canada at the Olympics in February. Although Spezza was not originally invited to orientation camp, he was a late addition when Ryan Getzlaf could not attend due to injury. Spezza has struggled offensively this season but appeared to be turning his fortunes around prior to the injury.
"He plays 19 and a half, 20 minutes a game," said Clouston. "He draws attention, he opens up space. It's easy to say he hasn't played that well but he will be missed.
"We'll just have to make do and find ways to win."
Jesse Winchester will take Spezza's spot on the top line tonight against the Sabres. Josh Hennessey has been also been recalled on an emergency basis from Binghamton of the AHL. Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson sees this as an opportunity for someone else to step in and help out.
"Anytime one of your top offensive guys goes down, it leaves a hole but we'll keep plugging along," said Alfredsson. "Someone else will get an opportunity and everyone has to chip in a little bit more."
"I had a bit of tough start and just started playing a little better, but it's part of sport and there's never a good time to get hurt," Spezza said.
Despite his offensive struggles, head coach Cory Clouston believes that he will be very difficult to replace in the Senators lineup.