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Canucks lose Malhotra for season with eye injury

The Associated Press
Monday, March 21, 2011; 5:40 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Vancouver Canucks center Manny Malhotra is out for the rest of the regular season and playoffs with an eye injury that required surgery, the team announced Monday.

Malhotra was hit in the left eye by an errant puck during last Wednesday's game against Colorado, and underwent surgery later that night.

"Following an initial procedure and continued treatment it has been determined through consultation with team doctors and specialists that Manny Malhotra will not return to the Canucks lineup for the remainder of this regular season and playoffs," the team's statement said.

Losing Malhotra is a serious blow to the NHL's leading team.

Malhotra was signed to a three-year, $7.5-million free agent contract last summer to anchor a shutdown third line. He was second in the NHL at 61.7 percent on faceoffs and key to Vancouver's penalty killing improving from 18th in the league to second when he was hurt.

Malhotra, who had 11 goals and 30 points in 72 games, was not wearing a visor when a long pass was deflected up into his face, leaving a trail of blood as he dropped and slid to a stop before being rushed off the ice.

Malhotra had a large white bandage over his face as he left a meeting with some of his teammates before a practice Saturday morning. The Canucks said there would be no further comment, but NBA star Steve Nash, Malhotra's brother-in-law, said later Saturday afternoon there is concern about "possibly permanent vision" damage.

"That's scary, Nash said at halftime of the Major League Soccer debut of the Vancouver Whitecaps, a team he partially owns. "I know he's a very tough guy and a great person but we're all just thinking about him and really worried and hoping he can come back, not only to play hockey but just get his vision back and be comfortable and live the life he deserves to live."

© 2011 The Associated Press