The Florida Panthers got news Monday that star defenseman Aaron Ekblad will be out for the season after being hurt Sunday night in Dallas.
Ekblad had surgery Monday to repair the fracture in his left leg and will out of the lineup an estimated three months.
The news Ekblad would be out was first reported by Frank Seravalli of TSN and later confirmed by GM Bill Zito through the team.
“To be without a player of Aaron’s caliber and character is an irreplaceable loss to our hockey club,” Zito said in a statement released by the team.
“Aaron is an incredibly driven and talented young player and a tremendous leader for our team. He has the heartfelt support of our organization, his teammates and fans as we wish him the best in his recovery and his eventual return.”
In the second period of Sunday’s eventual 4-1 win, Ekblad skated toward the end boards chasing a puck, turned and got hit.
As he was hit by Dallas’ Esa Lindell, his skate appeared to be caught between the boards and ice.
Ekblad fell to the ice seemingly in excruciating pain.
Florida’s medical staff raced over to him and quickly call for the standby EMTs to come out.
Ekblad was worked on the ice as players from both teams gathered around, some like Keith Yandle, unable to watch.
”You see your teammate, your friend on the ice, that’s never easy,” Yandle said after the game. “Whether it is a guy on your team or on the other team, it is tough to see that.”
Said Jonathan Huberdeau: “You hear him scream and it must have hurt so bad. It kind of gets you. He is a great guy, a great teammate. It sucks. It’s part of the game … I didn’t see it (happen) and I don’t really want to see it. It’s a tough play and it’ll be tough to be without him. We will be there for him and we will support him.”
Ekblad was eventually taken off the ice on a stretcher and worked on at the arena.
He flew back to South Florida with the team and was evaluated by specialists Monday.
Huberdeau said Ekblad was in a room near the visitors’ locker room in Dallas and the team was able to visit with him during the second intermission.
“Despite Aaron’s absence from our lineup,” Zito said, “we are confident in our group’s resiliency and motivation as we move forward.”
The Panthers are back Tuesday night at home against Detroit.