Report: Rangers key man is out with injury and might not play again

Injured Rangers forward takes huge stride forward in practice.

Blake Wheeler returned to practice with the New York Rangers on Monday, one day after their 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round.

The veteran striker donned a red, no-contact jersey in his first complete practice with the squad since suffering a severe lower-body injury on February 15. Wheeler was sidelined for the remainder of the regular season, although he had been skating on his own before Monday.

Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said it was a significant step forward for Wheeler and the team as a whole.

“It’s great. You’re hoping [the playoffs] will be a long journey to the finish line, and you know you’ll need a lot of bodies,” Laviolette said after practice. “So, seeing Blake back out there, even if he was wearing a different color jersey, I believe, was very important for him and our team. It’s the steps toward him returning to being available, whenever that may be.”

Blake Wheeler is practicing with the Rangers following a lower-body injury suffered about three months ago.

Wheeler was hurt by a hit from Montreal Canadiens defenseman Kaidan Guhle in a 7-4 Rangers victory, just before the Stadium Series outdoor games versus the Islanders.

The 37-year-old’s injury rattled his teammates.

“As much as these guys are teammates, we lost a friend,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba stated at the time. “He is clearly going through something that no one wants to go through. There’s more to consider than just the influence on the team. We all care deeply about hockey and our jobs, but we’re also humans and friends, and I’m not saying this is true, but perhaps he played his last hockey game.”

Chris Kreider said the injury was “heartbreaking.”

Despite being in his first season with the Rangers, the former Winnipeg Jets captain immediately established himself as a leader on and off the ice in New York. He’s a popular and respected teammate whose importance extends beyond his nine goals and 21 points in 54 games this season.
“It’s a tricky one. “He hasn’t been here long, but the impact he’s had on and off the ice has been fantastic for us,” Mika Zibanejad remarked before of the Stadium Series in February. “What an unbelievable player. “Unbelievable person and teammate.”

Wheeler joins Filip Chytil as an injured Rangers forward who has returned to practice. Chytil, who has been out since Nov. 2 with an upper-body ailment suspected to be a concussion, has been practicing with the Rangers for four weeks.








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