Kings’ Matt Greene might be out for season with back injury
The Stanley Cup champion Kings were hit with a significant blow, as one of their most durable defenseman, Matt Greene, suffered a back injury in the season opener, putting his season in jeopardy.
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi confirmed the injury to The Times on Monday, via email, and said of Greene: “Out for three months probably.”
Greene, who played in all 82 regular-season games in 2011-12, was injured against Chicago on Saturday. The prototypical stay-at-home defenseman logged 18 minutes of ice time and conducted multiple interviews in the dressing room well after the game ended.
He was not at practice Monday in El Segundo, and more of the focus was on Kings center Anze Kopitar, who said he would be ready to make his return Tuesday at Colorado.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said Greene was having the injury evaluated by the doctor, calling it a “mid-body injury.”
Sutter had made a point of saying Greene was one of the guys that “played hard for us” against Chicago.
“Hopefully, our first and second lines give us some quality minutes instead of just playing them,” Sutter said. “It was basically a waste of time the other night.”
Then he later returned to that theme.
"…We had a lot of guys that struggled,” he said. “I have heard all this stuff about bringing your own team back and all that sexy rah-rah.… The problem is that we’re not the same team. We’re a different team. Goaltenders are probably the most important guys that haven’t played for a long time. That’s the interesting thing. We need [goalie] Jonathan [Quick] to move on in a hurry, that’s for sure.”
The Kings recalled defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk from their minor league affiliate in Manchester, N.H., and put Greene on injured reserve, retroactive to Jan. 19. Earlier Monday, they put forward Andrew Stewart on waivers.
The Kings already were operating on a thin margin on defense because veteran Willie Mitchell is still recovering from his knee surgery. Mitchell still needs more time before returning to the lineup but had his first practice with teammates Monday. He was relieved to finally get in a full session, referring to the lockout.
“It’s like running a marathon, you hit that last mile in the homestretch and they keep extending the marathon for you, like there’s no end in sight,” said Mitchell.
Kopitar, the team’s leading scorer last season, pronounced himself good to go against Colorado, the first of a three-game trip. He suffered a sprained right knee Jan. 5 while playing in Sweden during the lockout.
He went through Monday’s session in El Segundo without any obvious issues. Kopitar said it was difficult to be a spectator during Saturday’s season opener against the Blackhawks, a 5-2 loss.
But he was able to skate on the ice during the pregame ceremony in which the Stanley Cup banner was raised and the Kings’ players received their rings.
“It was hard to skate off the ice. I was actually joking around with my trainer, if I just stay on the bench they’re not going to drag me off the ice,” Kopitar said, smiling. “But it was a smart decision and I’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
When: 6 PST.
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 1150.
Record vs. Avalanche (2011-12): 0-3-1.
Etc.: Colorado also dropped its season opener, losing 4-2 at Minnesota on Saturday. A contract impasse has center Ryan O’Reilly showing off his talents in Russia, not Denver. O’Reilly led Colorado in scoring last season with 55 points.
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