New Jersey Devils: Anton Volchenkov Injury Should Come as No Surprise

By Steve Palumbo

If the NHL lockout were to end today, the New Jersey Devils would be without the services of defenseman Anton Volchenkov for at least four to six weeks.

Volchenkov who is playing in the KHL during the NHL work stoppage was injured while playing for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in a Kontinental Hockey League game against Metallurg Magnitogorsk last Monday.

This is exactly what I was dreading when players began defecting overseas to keep active while the NHL and NHLPA somehow try to find a common ground and secure a new labor agreement.

Players, like Volchenkov, are taking their playing careers in their own hands when they leave the friendly confines of North America to play elsewhere. If the lockout ends and Volchenkov is not yet healthy enough to play, the Devils have the option to suspend him until he recovers.

This can create quite a dilemma for players and the NHL franchises that employ them. In most cases, the lockout leaves players with very little options for staying in shape. During a lockout, all the facilities that are made available to players are off-limits. In fact, Volchenkov wouldn’t even be able to see the Devils’ team doctors unless he does so on neutral ground and pays for it out of his own pocket.

It’s not like Volchenkov has never been hurt before. We could all see this injury coming. The rugged Russian has never played a full 82 games.  Truthfully, he has only reached at least 70 games in four of his nine professional seasons. His style of play makes it hard for the 30-year-old to stay healthy.

I don’t mind that particular aspect of his game at all….I just wish it was with the Devils.

Volchenkov should have stayed in New Jersey and continued skating with a group of Devils players, but decided to sign with Torpedo earlier this month and played in only three games before he was injured.

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