Brandon Dubinsky’s stint in the ECHL this fall can be summed up in one sentence: “Well, that escalated quickly.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets forward joined the Alaska Aces in October and went from a professional tryout agreement with the team to being named ECHL Player of the Week at the end of the month. But on Saturday, in the third period of the Aces’ game against the San Francisco Bulls, he broke his right index finger as he blocked a shot. The injury is nothing new: as part of the New York Rangers, he broke his finger when he blocked a shot from Calgary Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester back in November 2009.
The instinct to block shots is also not new to Dubinsky. Rangers head coach John Tortorella has trained the team to block shots in the passing lane and do it often. You may remember the Rangers’ penchant for that, especially in the 2011-12 postseason.
Dubinsky, who has 12 points in 12 games and leads the team in points and goals, has been put on the Aces’ 21-day injured list, but he may need as much as six weeks to recover – his break in 2009 took five weeks to heal. According to Dubinsky’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, the break is clean and shouldn’t require surgery.
Dubinsky and other displaced NHL players know the risks they face when they decide to play in other leagues. Those risks become heavily outweighed by their desire to stay in playing shape during the lockout. It’s the chance they take to be ready when they can take to NHL ice again.