By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Washington Capitals captain Chris Clark will have surgery on his wrist and will miss the remainder of the season, team officials said yesterday.
Clark, who was hurt in the preseason and has attempted to play through the injury, is scheduled to have the procedure to repair a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist on Thursday. There is no timetable for his return, but it's believed the 32-year-old will miss at least the remainder of the regular season. It's possible he could return for the playoffs, though the Capitals would need to advance into the later rounds for that to occur.
"It has everything to do with" his lack of production, General Manager George McPhee said, referring to Clark's one goal and five assists in 32 games. "It's not the Chris Clark we know. He's having a tough time handling a pass, making a pass and shooting the puck."
McPhee said he met with Clark last week and told him it was in the best interest of Clark and the team to explore the possibility of surgery.
Clark, who was not available to reporters yesterday, scored a career-high 30 goals two seasons ago and was signed to a three-year, $7.9 million extension in July 2007. But the rugged right wing has been limited by face, groin, forearm and wrist injuries since. He has a combined six goals and nine assists in 50 games the past two seasons.
"It just got to the point where he wasn't the player we know he is," McPhee said. "He was hurting himself and hurting his team."
Clark will likely be placed on long-term injured reserve, a move that will free up $2.75 million in cap space, which would be enough to promote impressive rookie Karl Alzner from Hershey.
Clark's injury also could lead to increased playing time for the oft-scratched Eric Fehr, who recorded a goal and an assist in back-to-back wins over the weekend.
While it remains unclear whether Clark will be able to contribute at some point in the coming months, this much is not up for debate: He will remain the Capitals' captain.
"Clark is our captain," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "There's no controversy there. When he gets healthy, he'll come back and be our captain."