Sharks' forward could be sidelined up to six months after surgery to repair knee injury
San Jose Sharks forward Ryane Clowe (29) works around Kristian Huselius of the Calgary Flames in this file photo from the 2006-07 NHL season. Just as his big-league career was really taking off, Clowe suffered a knee injury that will sideline him for much of the present campaign. Canadian Press file photo
There's no masking the disappointment in Ryane Clowe's voice when he speaks of the recent knee injury that has knocked him out of the San Jose Sharks' lineup.
The rugged winger from Fermeuse suffered a torn ACL and MCL in an Oct. 27 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, an injury that will keep him sidelined three to six months. Clowe underwent surgery Monday and will soon begin physiotherapy on his injured right leg. Speaking from his home in San Jose Wednesday, Clowe said the mental aspect of the injury is as tough to deal with as the physical pain.
"It's tough to know you're going to be out for a while after you've gotten off to a good start," said Clowe. "The toughest part is having that kind of curve thrown at you."
Clowe established himself as a legitimate NHL power forward last season, picking up 34 points in 58 games, and began this year as a top-six forward on a very good Sharks' team. He had six points (three goals, three assists) in the club's first 11 games and was arguably the Sharks' most physical player in the early going of the 07-08 campaign.
Ironically, Clowe was injured on the exact type of play that makes him such a valuable member of the Sharks.
"I was forechecking in the game against Columbus (on Oct. 27) and I was just going to finish my check on (Blue Jackets' defenceman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen) when he kind of hit me back with his rear end. When he did that my skate got caught in a rut in the ice and my knee kind of bent in," Clowe said. "I knew right away something was wrong, but even when I got back to the bench I didn't think it was really bad. I was kind of shocked to find out a few days later how serious it was."
Clowe admits he hasn't felt much like talking since Monday's surgery, but adds it hasn't been all gloom and doom since the injury. Instead, he's focusing on rehabbing his knee and getting back into the lineup as soon as possible.
"I have a lot ahead of me. I have to be mentally prepared for rehab, that's the important thing," said Clowe. "I have to be in the right frame of mind."
Sharks' general manager Doug Wilson recommended Clowe continue spending time with his teammates and even suggested Clowe hang around the locker room on days the team is practicing. Wilson said this will help Clowe keep his spirits up on days he's bothered by the injury.
"Doug (Wilson) said he'd like me to be around the guys a lot and I agreed with him," said Clowe. "I'll be at the rink every day getting treatment when they're practicing and I'll probably watch every game while I'm not playing."
Considering he might not return to the lineup until the beginning of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Clowe couldn't be blamed for worrying if his spot as a top-six forward will be waiting for him once he's fully healed. However, Clowe maintains he has likely done enough over the last year to secure his position with the Sharks.
"Maybe last year that would have been the case, but this year it's not really the case," Clowe said. "Doug (Wilson) said not to worry about it, so it hasn't crossed my mind."
Clowe isn't sure exactly what the Sharks' trainers have in store for him in regards to physiotherapy, but he knows the rehab will involve small exercises at first designed to improve his range of motion, followed by weight training that will help him strengthen the knee. Clowe said he will remain positive through it all, using the first major injury of his career as a character building experience.
"It's a bump in the road," Clowe said. "I can either grow stronger from it, or put my head between my legs and sulk about it."