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10/3/08 8:44 AM
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Mark1
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Friday, October 3, 2008

Broken leg puts Wings' Chelios on ice

Dave Dye / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- When he saw how much pain defenseman Chris Chelios was still in a day after taking a slap shot on the right leg, Wings coach Mike Babcock suspected the injury was probably more serious than first reports.

That suspicion was correct.

Chelios, 46, entering his 25th NHL season, is expected to miss 3-6 weeks because of a fractured right tibia, Wings officials announced Thursday.

"He was in such pain and this guy is as tough as anyone," Babcock said.

Asked how long he expects Chelios to be out, Babcock answered, "I think it will be more like six weeks."

Babcock indicated Chelios is not supposed to put any weight on the leg for three weeks.

Since the opening day of camp two weeks ago, Babcock has been saying the Wings' logjam on defense will somehow, someway work itself out.

Chelios' injury has helped sort out some of it, to an extent, at least for the short term.

Because of the salary cap, the Wings were under the gun to trade a defenseman before the opener next Thursday.

The logical candidates were Kyle Quincey, 23, and Derek Meech, 24, or Brett Lebda, 26.

But with Chelios out, there's not the same sense of urgency to make a deal because his $750,000 contract won't count against the cap as long as he's on the injured-reserve list.

"The timeline was (the opener)," Babcock said. "That's now gone away. We have more time to evaluate. The whole key is to be patient in these situations."

Still, there are going to be roster decisions to be made, even without Chelios.

For instance, general manager Ken Holland confirmed the Wings are considering opening the season with 22 players, one under the 23-man limit, to stay under the $56.7 million cap restriction.

"It depends on the price of the players we keep, what we want to do," he said.

Holland said for the Wings to keep a 13th forward -- Darren Helm, Darren McCarty, Aaron Downey or Ville Leino -- they will still need to trade a defenseman.

"Do we trade somebody because we want to create a forward's position, to go with an extra forward?" Holland said. "That's what we'll have to determine.

"Ultimately, when Cheli comes back, we're going to have to move somebody."

On Wednesday, Chelios said the injury was only believed to be a deep bone bruise below his knee, that X-rays were negative and that his status was "day-to-day."

He underwent more tests, including a CT scan, and the diagnosis changed.

The injury occurred early in the third period of an exhibition Tuesday at Montreal when he blocked a shot by Canadiens defenseman Francis Bouillon.

10/4/08 3:45 AM
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Spankenstyne
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 lol 3-6 weeks? At his age they clearly mean months.

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