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Kronwall’s Knee: The Saga Continues (And Ends?)

MONTREAL- NOVEMBER 21:  Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings is helped off of the ice after being tripped by Georges Laraque #17 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game on November 21, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Coming off of a season where injuries were the major story line, it’s no surprise that Wings fans everywhere were holding their breath when defenseman Niklas Kronwall reported that he was having pain in his knee. We all remember Georges Laraque’s kneejob on Kronwall last season up in Montreal, which put Laraque on the suspended list for five games and Kronwall on the shelf for 30 games with a sprained MCL. With the Wings counting on a healthy roster this year, state,emts like these from Ken Holland are not what Wings fans need to hear, especially before the season starts.

Khan (!):

“They suggested we do a minor scope to explore, to look and see what’s going on,” Holland said.

Goodie. At any rate, Kronwall went under the knife today so the doctors could take a peek, and lo-and-behold, the cause of the achy knee was found and remedied:

(More) Khan(!):

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall had athroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday morning. Doctors discovered a lateral meniscus tear. Kronwall is expected to be idled for two weeks but should be ready to skate at the start of training camp Sept. 18 in Traverse City.

Thank Jeebus.

That said, I’m still hedging my bets on how much contact Kronwall sees at camp this year, especially given the fact that his recovery from the original MCL sprain dragged on well past the initial timeframe that doctors placed on it. If we’ve learned one thing from watching Kronwall over the past year or so, it’s that his knees are one of the most important parts of his entire game, and the slightest tweak can become the ultimate disruptor in his overall mojo. I’d rather have Kronwall log a little extra time in preseason game situations, than get into training camp with the knee not feeling 100% and have Justin Abdelkader blow him and the blue line up with a meaningless check in the corner.

At the end of the day, Kronwall is still a young-ish guy who showed great resilience in coming back last season and fighting through the pain to play. But at the same time, his game was severely hampered because he rushed himself back, and it was evident to everyone around the league, not just the Red Wings. For a guy who took some scoff this week about “not doing the right thing” in terms of resting the knee and letting it heal properly, I hope Kronwall and the Wings take their time with this one. Otherwise, we’ll be busting out the Kindl before you know it.
CAMPBELLSVILLE, KY - JULY 10:  Amazon's new Kindle DX 9.7' Wireless Reading Device is ready for shipment at the warehouse on June 10, 2009 in Campbellsville, Kentucky.  The reader can hold thousands of books and has text-to-speech capability among other features. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)

Uh, let’s try that again…
DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 26:   Jakub Kindl #46 of the Detroit Red Wings skates in a pre-season game against the Boston Bruins on September 26, 2008 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Bruins defeated the Red Wings 2-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Better. Just gotta drop that “6”.

At any rate, it’s still pretty discouraging that the NHL hasn’t taken a stronger stance on the kind of plays that originally forced Kronwall to the injured reserve last season. Yes, I know I’m beating on the dead horse here – especially since today’s meniscus repair wasn’t a result of the Laraque hit – but it’s still disenfranchising to watch GM’s battle so hard to get head shots addressed, while these kinds of plays are still up for some debate in some circles about being “dirty.” I remember watching the game when the injury happened, and my buddy sitting next to me remarking about how “it’s a penalty, but that’s a clean play.” If that’s a clean play, then Tonya Harding and Co’s whack job on Nancy Kerrigan should have only fetched them two minutes in the sin bin for tripping (although Kerrigan could have easily served two as well for diving, IMO.) Nonetheless, it still shocks me that Laraque only sat for five games while Kronwall goes out for 30. If you’re scoring at home, that’s just over 16% of Kronwall’s injury time that Laraque missed.

Am I one of those proponents for “eye-for-and-eye/game-for-a-game” punishment? Absolutely not. Injuries happen and they take time to heal, but more often than not they are accidental and undeserving of punishment. Additionally, guys could milk the hell out of an injury for any number of personal reasons, so it makes no real sense to penalize the guy who hit a rut in the ice, tripped and blew up someone’s knee (obviously that’s not the case here.) In fact, I don’t have a ready-made solution for these types of plays. Unfortunately for all of us, it doesn’t seem like the league does either, settling instead on the rudimentary and completely temperamental “Wheel of Justice” that hangs on Colin Campbell’s wall.

Whatever. Laraque has found a new arena for his talents and I, for one, am glad he won’t be out on the ice blowing up people’s knees anymore. Although, if you’re not a member of the Green Party in Canada, I’d watch yourself when you see the “gentle green giant” coming toward you.

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