Kevin Shattenkirk wanted to get off to the best possible start in his first season on Broadway, playing for his hometown club with family and friends watching closer than ever. None of what’s happened for him on the ice has gone as planned, and now there’s an explanation.
The New Rochelle native, who took a discount to play for his childhood-favorite Rangers, has a torn meniscus in his left knee, which he’s been playing through since before the regular season started. He’ll undergo surgery Monday performed by Dr. Bryan Kelly at Hospital for Special Surgery. Shattenkirk is out indefinitely but says the surgery is not season-ending.
“Thinking about this year, you want everything to go perfectly,” Shattenkirk said. “I think I’ve been trying to battle through this for a lot of reasons. When it came down to it today and when we talked about it, you have to think about yourself. I’ve been worried about a lot more things, trying not to disappoint a lot of people, me included in that.
“It’s hard to be leaving the team. It’s never easy to be sidelined. You’re not around the team as much and you don’t get to hang out with the guys and get that camaraderie. I also feel like what I was putting out on the ice, I wasn’t giving the guys on the team the best I have.”
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Shattenkirk signed with much fanfare when free agency opened on July 1, coming to the Rangers with a can’t-refuse four-year contract with an annual $6.65 million cap hit. Terms and dollars were sacrificed so Shattenkirk could live out his dream.
But the defenseman’s first 46 games haven’t been anything like he fantasized. Though he has 23 points, he has just one in his last 13 games and only six in his last 28 games, all assists. And though never considered the stingiest defenseman, he’s been worse than anticipated. He clearly wasn’t himself.
“It limits me off the ice as far as training and keeping my body in the normal shape that I normally can,” Shattenkirk said. “Because of it my left leg is starting to get a lot weaker and not allowing me to play my game and have the escapability and the explosiveness in my skating.”
Shattenkirk got a cortisone shot before the season and a PRP injection during the four-day bye last week. Everyone involved felt the injury could improve, Alain Vigneault saying in some cases the meniscus can heal on its own even through playing. It just never happened.
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“Recently it’s been something that’s really been glaring,” Shattenkirk said of the injury. “I think it’s the right thing to do in the long run.”
It is another crucial injury for a Rangers team already without Chris Kreider (blood clot, rib resection) and dealing with shorter-term ailments to Kevin Hayes (leg contusion) and Marc Staal (hip flexor). Hayes and Staal will skate before Saturday’s game in Denver but won’t play and are considered 50-50 for Sunday’s game in Los Angeles, according to Vigneault.
The Rangers on Friday called up 22-year-old defenseman Tony DeAngelo from Hartford to play in Saturday’s game as Shattenkirk and Staal’s injuries left them with only five healthy defensemen. Forward Daniel Catenacci was also called up to serve as insurance for the Blueshirts’ four-game road trip.
No. 7 pick Lias Andersson, who’d been rehabbing a shoulder injury, was also assigned to Hartford after being on loan to Swedish club Frolunda.
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