|Malhotra took a puck to his left eye in March of 2011. (Getty Images)|
At this point the Canucks aren't saying his career is over, but it's possible we've seen the last of Malhotra playing in the NHL.
Here is the Canucks' statement:
"The long term health of Manny Malhotra is of utmost importance to our organization," said Michael D. Gillis, President and General Manager, Canucks Sports & Entertainment. "Throughout his career Manny has showcased his indispensability through skilled play, being a consummate professional and leader in the room while also continuously giving back to the community. Manny will continue to be a valued member of our organization."
From all indications this is related to the horrific eye injury Malhotra sufferd a few years back that nearly cost him sight in one eye. He was able to return to the Canucks and played all of last season but it doesn't look like his vision has been that great. So, as the Canucks say, his long-term health is the most important thing.
It was the team's decision to shut Malhotra down.
"For me, it was the hardest thing I've done in this job," GM Mike Gillis said. "I wouldn't put anyone in a position where I thought they couldn't protect themselves."
Malhotra, 32, is one player whose statistics don't tell the whole story. In 864 career games he's had 108 goals and 170 assists. It's not like he was useless as a scorer but it certainly was not his main role, particularly in Vancouver.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault has taken a specialized approach to his line assignments. For example, when there is an offensive-zone faceoff draw, there's a really good chance the Sedin twins will be on the ice because the O-zone draw results in some great scoring chances. In that same vein, if there were a defensive-zone draw, Vigneault would turn to Malhotra more often than not. He is not only a solid defensive player but he's as good as it gets in the faceoff circle.
"He's a huge part of our group," Vigneault said. "Such a strong individual in all categories. I know this is an emotional time for Manny."
This season in the nine games that he did play, Malhotra won 64 faceoffs while losing just 34, almost 66 percent. And that was with bad eyesight.
In addition to all of that, Malhotra is one of those guys every team wants to have around the locker room. He's not one who will be accused of messing up the team chemistry.
Malhotra is certainly going to stick around the Canucks so it's entirely possible this isn't it for him. In fact, Gillis pretty much confirmed that on Thursday.
"I've asked him to stay on with our organization," Gillis said. "He could help us on a variety of levels.
"His personality, courage and leadership with this group will not change."
They are going to continue to monitor the situation and perhaps down the line he can return. It just won't be this season.