A hip injury that has kept Tri-City Americans goalie Eric Comrie sidelined for a week requires surgery. Comrie, in his first year as a starter, will miss the remainder of the season.
It sucks right now, Comrie said Friday afternoon. It is better to do it (surgery) while it is minor. The doctors say I will be more flexible, have better range of motion and be pain-free.
Comrie said he has been experiencing pain for awhile, but it started to get worse after the Subway Super Series in November. After last weeks game in Kamloops, Comrie has watched from the bench. He also missed out on playing in Wednesdays CHL/NHL Top Prospects game.
Comrie had tests earlier this week that revealed the damage. He will have surgery Feb. 5 in Vail, Colo., then return home to California for rehab. He should be back on the ice in 3-4 months.
We sat down and talked about it and decided this would the best course of action, Comrie said of the conversation with his parents Bill and Roxanne. I have to move forward and next year I will be 100 percent. Its really hard to leave. Weve really become a family. This is the closest team I have ever been on.
While Americans general manager Bob Tory knows this is the best course of action for Comrie and the team, it still was a hard conversation to have.
This is a devastating blow to our team, Tory said, but we will get through this. We have to look after the athlete first and the team second. We have to do the right thing by him. We cant feel sorry for ourselves. I feel worse for Eric. Its his draft year. Hes learning the ups and downs of sports at a young age.
Comrie, in his second season with the Americans, was 20-14-1-2 in 37 games.
He has a 2.62 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage, and two shutouts.
Comrie was the No. 2-ranked draft-eligible goaltender in North America in Central Scoutings midseason rankings tops in the Western Hockey League.
He also was the only goaltender listed in the top 30 of NHL draft-eligible players, according to NHL.com.
Though he will miss the remainder of the season, Comrie does not believe this setback will affect his draft status this summer.
The scouts have seen me play, he said. By the draft I should be healthy.
With Comrie out, the starting goaltending duties fall to Luke Lee-Knight, 19, who is 5-3-0-0 this season, including three wins in his last four starts.
I found out (Friday) morning, Lee-Knight said. I didnt know if he was being serious or not. He was serious. Eric is such a great friend of mine, this was sad to hear. We just need to keep going. Ive worked hard all season and I think Im ready.
Comrie is confident Lee-Knight can get the job done in net.
I think Luke is more than ready, Comrie said. Against Portland (a 3-2 win on Dec. 7 at the Rose Garden), he showed he can play. Hes going to be unbelievable. Weve become really good friends. Its hard to say goodbye to him.
Tory has confidence in Lee-Knight and the rest of the team as it moves forward.
In the end, this is a team game, Tory said. For Luke, this is a special gift. As a group, everyone has to step up and give more. If everyone can do that, we can get through this. We have very high standards. We expect them to go out and get it done no matter who puts the jersey on.
Tory, who is on a recruiting trip in Alberta, also needs to work out the details of who will back up Lee-Knight.
The Americans have 26 regular-season games remaining, not to mention the playoffs.
Troy Trombley, of the Melville Millionaires in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, has backed up Lee-Knight the last three games and is with the team through tonights game in Spokane.
If this would have been before Jan. 10, we could have made a trade or listed someone, Tory said. The timing makes it that much more difficult.
The Americans have Trombley, 18, and 15-year-old Evan Sarthou (L.A. Jr. Kings U-16) on their protected list.
They are the only two players who are eligible to come in and help.
We have to have their teams permission to use them, Tory said. We are trying to work out a schedule.