The Minnesota Wild will be without captain Mikko Koivu for four weeks after the center fractured his right ankle during Saturday’s game against the Capitals.
The injury is a tough break for the Wild, as Koivu led the team in both points and assists.
“He’s a tough competitor, he’s clearly one of our best players and he’s our leader for a reason,” said general manager Chuck Fletcher. “It’s a big blow.”
Koivu proved just how tough he was Saturday after suffering the injury. Although he needed to be helped to the bench after taking a blocked shot to the ankle, Koivu returned to the game and tallied two assists that proved key in a 5-3 win.
“If there’s any question about his character or how high his competitive level is, I think this incident certainly should answer that,” Fletcher said.
Opts For Surgery
Koivu underwent surgery to address the fracture on Monday. The Wild said his surgery was successful, and they believe his timetable for return is approximately four weeks.
Team doctors said the fracture would have healed correctly without surgery, but Koivu wouldn’t have been able to skate for six weeks while he recovered. By pursing surgery, Koivu will be able to return to the ice quicker and with a more stabilized bone, both of which are good news for a team jostling for one of the final playoff spots at the halfway point of the season.
Assuming the timeline is accurate, Koivu could return to the lineup for a couple games before the three-week Olympic break, which begins February 7.
Don’t be surprised if Koivu tries to get back on the ice before the Olympic break, as he expects to play a pivotal role for Team Finland in the upcoming Winter Games. Fletcher said the final decision would be up to Koivu.
“I don’t even know if that’s really our call,” Fletcher said. “If he’s healthy, he’s eligible to go. I anticipate he’ll be healthy before the Olympics, but we’ll see how the recovery and the rehab goes. Sometimes these things are unpredictable.”
Koivu was the captain of the Finnish team that took the gold medal at the 2011 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships, and many believe he will be asked to captain the team in Sochi.
Dr. Silverman comments
It sounds like Koivu is getting the right kind of care at the hands of the team physicians.
Fractures from direct blows are tough to manage. Many are taken care of non-surgically, but in this case, doctors decided to preform the operation to help Koivu get back on the ice quicker. I’m sure it is very important to Koivu that he plays for his home country in the Olympics, so I’m not surprised he decided to have the surgery.
There are two main reasons a doctor will recommend surgery for a direct blow fracture:
- If they occur on a weight-bearing bone; or
- If they caused a displaced fracture.
I don’t have access to the X-rays, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the above factors was present in addition to Koivu’s wishes to return as soon as possible.
The big problem with direct blow fractures is the skin near injured area. To break the bone, the skin and the tissues beneath it had to absorb some energy. That energy damages the tissue, which leads to blistering, bruising, and in some circumstances, skin necrosis (death). I’m sure his doctors will handle his break and the surrounding area effectively.
Related source: Pioneer Press.
Lance Silverman, MD
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