Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares sustained an oblique injury in practice with Team Canada ahead of the World Hockey Championship and will return to Toronto for further evaluation.
The Maple Leafs said a further update on the star centre will follow in the coming days.
Team Canada general manager Jason Botterill said Tavares suffered his injury while training in Slovakia, according to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger. Tavares skated Thursday but didn't feel right so the decision was made with the Maple Leafs to send him back to Canada.
“We are disappointed that John will not be able to participate as a member of Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, but after contacting the Toronto Maple Leafs we agreed it was best for him to return home for further evaluation,” Botterill said. “We know John was excited about the opportunity to wear the Maple Leaf once again, and we were excited to have John as a member of our team and to welcome his many years of NHL and international experience.”
Tyler Bertuzzi replaced Tavares on the top line alongside Sean Couturier and Sam Reinhart after Tavares left early.