Those among us who play doctors on the Internet presumed the worst last weekend when Ryan Murray suffered a bad shoulder injury playing for the WHL's Everett Silvertips. Now the NHL's No. 2 overall pick can be safely ruled out as part of Team Canada for next month's world junior championship.
There is some sliver of possibility that the 19-year-old defenceman, who was one of three potential returning rearguards for Hockey Canada, will not need surgery. Even if that was the case, the recovery time would probably proscribe playing overseas in the world junior, which begins five weeks from today.
That will make Canada more reliant on returnees Dougie Hamilton and Scott Harrington, along with Murray's fellow top-5 pick Morgan Rielly.
From Silvertips beat writer Nick Patterson:
Poking around a bit indicates recovery time from labrum surgery is typically three to five months. That means Murray is all but out for Canada's team for the World Junior Hockey Championships, and his junior career could also be over.
What a tough break for Murray. He wasn't even supposed to be playing in the WHL this season, as conventional wisdom said he'd be in the NHL suiting up with the Columbus Blue Jackets after being selected second overall in the NHL draft in June. But the NHL lockout put that on hold, and now this. All the accounts I've been told about the incident that caused the injury said it was just a freak accident, too. (Everett Herald)
Blue Jackets beat writer Aaron Portzline explained why this will surely prevent Murray from wearing the Maple Leaf in Ufa, Russia.
If surgery is required, Murray will likely miss at least four months and possibly the remainder of the season. Watson would perform the surgery, Howson said.
Even if surgery is not required — a small possibility — Murray is almost certain to miss a chance to represent Team Canada in the world junior championships beginning Dec. 26 in Russia.
"When I spoke with him (on Sunday), he was in a lot of pain," Howson said. "He was disappointed, obviously. I would say he's very disappointed." (Columbus Dispatch)
It leaves a void, but this is where the country's vaunted depth is supposed to kick in, especially in a season when defencemen taken in the first round of the NHL draft were likely going to be left out of Canada's final selection camp. Not having Murray, though, would presumably affect the club's leadership structure. He was certainly captain material and his trip to last spring's world championship imbued him with experience that is irreplaceable.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.