When Manny Malhotra missed the Canucks’ game against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday for “personal reasons,” eyebrows were raised as to what those reasons might be. It turned out to be more serious than anyone thought, as the Canucks announced that Malhotra has been placed on Injured Reserve and will miss the remainder of the 2012-13 season.
It’s now quite clear why Mike Gillis was confident that there would still be a spot for Jordan Schroeder once Ryan Kesler returned. With Malhotra gone for the rest of the season, the Canucks’ have a hole at centre ice that needs to be filled. It’s possible that Kesler will return as early as Friday’s game against the Dallas Stars, at which point Schroeder would likely move to the third line, with Maxim Lapierre centring the fourth line and taking the bulk of the defensive zone faceoffs.
The real question now is, what does this mean for Malhotra’s future? The speculation is that his eye injury from 2011 has deteriorated his vision to the point that he will have to retire, but will stay with the team in some capacity.
That he was placed on Injured Reserve is significant. It means that the “personal reasons” for missing Tuesday’s game were likely a little more impersonal in nature. It’s possible that he removed himself from the lineup, finally admitting to himself that his vision was too much of a detriment on the ice.
What lies ahead for Malhotra is unclear. It’s entirely possible that he has played his last game in the NHL, as his vision may never improve. That is assuming that there isn’t another injury affecting him, but it seems safe to assume that this is related to his eye. If he does retire, he could definitely play a role with the Canucks. He is one of the most respected figures in the Canucks’ locker room and around the NHL.
Malhotra frequently ran practices for the Canucks prior to the start of training camp and helped run drills when the team practiced with the UBC Thunderbirds, helping the Thunderbirds’ centres work on faceoffs. It’s easy to imagine him stepping behind the bench, in some sense, to do the same for the Canucks through the rest of the season.
As long as Malhotra is on IR, he continues to collect his salary, but his contract comes off the Canucks’ salary cap due to long-term injury reserve status. He could then choose to retire during the summer and join the Canucks’ coaching staff officially.
For the Canucks, they will hopefully take his absence as inspiration. The last time that Malhotra was placed on the IR, the Canucks went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Hopefully, this time around, they win it for Manny.Tags: Manny Malhotra, Win it for Manny