The Ducks are forced to say farewell to their captain until possibly 2018.
Ryan Getzlaf underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a fractured left cheekbone, Ducks general manager Bob Murray said. The top-line center was struck by a puck in a road win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct.. 29 and has missed the team's last three contests.
About 94% of NHL players wear visors that could prevent such an injury, but Getzlaf isn't one of them. And now the 32-year-old will be sidelined for up to two months after screws were inserted to fix the displacement. He'll also have to wear a shield when he's back on the ice.
That means the Ducks are without their top two centers for the foreseeable future. Ryan Kesler, who had surgery on his hip during the offseason, is skating, but he's not expected to return until at least December.
"It's hard to remember [a season] with such elite players, important people out of your lineup," Murray said. "No one will feel sorry for you."
But there is some good news on the Kesler front.
"He's skating much harder now," Murray said. "He's had to learn his stride all over again, to be quite honest. For a couple years, he's been, for a lack of a better word, short-striding it.
"You could see he wasn't pushing. He has to learn to lengthen his stride again and get the muscles back."
With so many centers on the injured list, it could mean Rickard Rakell moves back to the pivot. A 33-goal scorer a season ago, he transitioned to center during the offseason, but recently was back playing wing.
It appeared the Ducks were finally finding their health after Ryan Miller, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen returned. But the team is also awaiting the recovery of Cam Fowler, who injured his right knee Oct. 20, though he could be back this month.
The defenseman already is doing lateral movement in the gym.