Thursday’s news, as expected, wasn’t good for Jared Cowen or the Spokane Chiefs.
The 17-year-old defenseman – Spokane’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft and the seventh-ranked North American skater, according to NHL’s Central Scouting – will undergo reconstructive surgery on his right knee, which will sideline him for the rest of the season.
Cowen, who suffered an MCL sprain and a high-grade ACL injury after finishing a check in Spokane’s 6-0 win over the Chilliwack Bruins last Friday, is expected to have surgery in the next three weeks. Rehabilitation is projected to take up to five months.
“When something like this happens, you just get a knot in your stomach and you feel terrible for the player,” Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz said. “We all know how hard Jared has worked and what he has put in, and when something like this happens … It’s a huge deal, and obviously nobody can control it, but the original thought is that you just feel terrible for the player.”
If everything goes well Cowen should be ready for the 2009-10 season, but there were obvious undertones of frustration when Cowen talked about the end of his season on Thursday.
“I felt two pops and kind of a crunch when it happened and I knew right away that it was serious, and obviously I’m just really bummed out that this happened,” Cowen said. “There are only 20-something games left and then playoffs, which is the best time of the year, and I’ll just have to watch from the stands or on TV, depending on where I am.”
Time will tell how the sudden loss of Cowen, one of their top blueliners, will affect the defending Memorial Cup champion Chiefs. Time will also tell how the injury will affect Cowen’s draft status, though Cowen and Speltz are optimistic that NHL scouts have seen enough of Cowen to know what they would be getting by drafting him.
The Allan, Saskatchewan, native led all WHL rookies last year with a plus-28 rating and this season Cowen had seven goals, 21 points and a plus-16 rating through 48 games.
Prior to this knee injury, Cowen had never missed a game because of injury.
“He’s obviously a guy that we can’t replace easily, it’s just not going to work that way,” Speltz said. “But at the same time, we carried eight defensemen on our roster this season for a reason. We have depth on the defensive end and we think they can all play, and now some guys will have to grab the opportunity to have an expanded role.”
Bowman earns CHL honor
Drayson Bowman was named CHL Player of the Week after the Chiefs forward scored five goals and five assists for 10 points in three wins with a plus-minus rating of plus-6.
The 19-year-old Carolina Hurricanes prospect leads Spokane in scoring with 25 goals and 27 assists for 52 points in 40 games.
The Chiefs have won 11 straight games, one shy of the club record, and face a tall task tonight when they host the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Giants (44-4-0-3), who won the 2007 Memorial Cup.
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