SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Canada forward John Tavares will miss the rest of the Olympics with a leg injury, dealing a blow to the defending champions’ depth.
The New York Islanders captain was injured in a big hit along the boards by Latvia’s Arturs Kulda in the second period of Canada’s 2-1 victory Wednesday night.
Tavares writhed on the ice in pain for several seconds before skating to the bench and going to Canada’s dressing room.
Canada coach Mike Babcock didn’t disclose the severity of Tavares’ injury, but said he will miss the team’s final two games. The Islanders’ team doctors will examine him back in New York.
“I don’t know if he’s going home right way,” Babcock said. “He seemed to be in a fine mood, obviously disappointed he’s injured.”
Tavares went scoreless in four games for Canada in Sochi while playing with a revolving cast of linemates, but his size and playmaking abilities made him a key forward.
Just four days and two games are left in the Olympic tournament. Canada faces the United States in the semifinals on Friday.
The 23-year-old Tavares is the NHL’s third-leading scorer with 66 points in 59 games for the Islanders. He has never had significant injury problems in his five-season professional career, playing in 350 of a possible 354 games with New York.
Canada must attempt to win its third gold medal in four Olympics without two of the NHL’s best young centers. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos was unable to recover from a broken right leg in time for the Olympics and was replaced by teammate Martin St. Louis on Canada’s roster a few days before the games began.