Hurricanes D Joni Pitkanen out 10-12 weeks after breaking heel bone

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

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The Carolina Hurricanes not only lost a critical game on Tuesday night to the Washington Capitals, they lost a critical player in defenseman Joni Pitkanen for the rest of the season.

In a play that shows exactly why there has been so much discussion about adopting hybrid icing in the NHL, Pitkanen was in a race for the puck with Washington's Troy Brouwer to try to touch up for the icing call. Nothing happened between the two, there was no contact, but Pitkanen skated so hard that he crashed into the boards.

It looked bad because it was. The Hurricanes announced on Wednesday morning that Pitkanen suffered a broken left heel bone and will be out 10-12 weeks. In other words, his season is done.

If Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford wasn't already on the side of hybrid icing, I'm sure he is now. This play would have been completely avoidable if the hybrid rule were in place.

In that case, they would have had a race to the bottom of the faceoff circle, not to the actual puck. At that point, it is the lineman's discretion who would win. It keeps the racing aspect involved, but you don't have it going all the way to the boards, where dangerous situations like this can occur.

The hybrid icing rule will soon come to the NHL, and it will be for reasons exactly like this.

Considering this is the day of the trade deadline, could the Hurricanes try to get some help to replace Pitkanen? It would seem pertinent, or at least to pull Jamie McBain's name off the trade block as it had been rumored to be. Rutherford could very well be in the market for a veteran defenseman, perhaps even a rental.

Pitkanen had one goal and eight assists in 22 games for the Hurricanes this season (he missed 13 games due to another injury). He was eating up a lot of ice time with 22:49 per game. It's a pretty substantial loss for a team fighting for the playoffs.

 
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