Canucks' Ilya Mikheyev: 'It was my decision' to play with ACL injury

The 28-year-old registered 27 points in 46 games this season before being shutdown.

After the Vancouver Canucks announced that Ilya Mikheyev would miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury he suffered in preseason, the forward took to the social media to clear the air. (Getty Images)

News of Ilya Mikheyev being shut down for the rest of the season to surgically repair a torn ACL would be run-of-the-mill, if unfortunate, even for a mess of a Vancouver Canucks franchise. Yet, a key detail added to the feeling of organizational disarray: Mikheyev had been playing through the injury since before the season even began.

For what it’s worth, Mikheyev took to Twitter on Saturday to defend the Canucks' — and his own — decision to play on for the majority of the campaign. Specifically, Mikheyev emphasized that it was his decision to suit up despite the injurty.

In the first tweet, Mikheyev asserted that he, along with the team's medical staff, determined that playing on the torn ACL wouldn’t cause any additional damage.

"I understand there is a lot of debate about my decision to play with an ACL injury. Here are the facts: when I was injured in the preseason, I went through several tests and realized I could play without causing any more damage. That’s what I wanted to do," he wrote.

The 28-year-old forward noted that his knee was tested twice per week, crucially adding that “never did I feel pressure (to keep playing), never did I feel worse. It was my decision” to keep playing.

Finally, Mikheyev noted that the decision was made to get surgery done so he’d be ready for the Canucks’ 2023-24 training camp, and that he has “no complaints with the way it was handled.”

Considering the disastrous way the Canucks have handled many decisions this season (and over the past several years), people would already hesitate to extend the benefit of the doubt to management. But this situation inspired heightened speculation after Quinn Hughes expressed serious disdain for how Tanner Pearson’s wrist injury was handled earlier this season.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bill Sterett lays out a few key reasons why it’s a bad idea to play on a torn ACL here. The gist: by playing through a torn ACL, you risk also injuring the MCL in your knee. From there, you increase the chances of arthritis issues in the knee.

Note that, by playoff projections from The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn, the Canucks’ playoff chances dropped to about 20 percent sometime around December. Not just biting the bullet in September was already dubious, but waiting until late January points once again to lacklustre vision from an organization that keeps stepping in it.

Mikheyev is 28, and the Canucks have $4.75-million in cap space devoted to him for four seasons (the deal expires after 2025-26). Rolling the dice with any player’s health seems foolish; it’s doubly concerning when it’s someone carrying a fairly long-term commitment.

Sure, it would be even worse if the Canucks pressured Mikheyev to keep playing on a torn ACL, but letting him do it — especially far beyond the point where this season was already lost — is just another alarming sign of a franchise in disarray.

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