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Coyotes’ Richardson suffer broken tibia, fibula; recovery timeline uncertain

Coyotes forward Brad Richardson was carted off the ice in Vancouver in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Canucks on Thursday, Nov. 17. (Associated Press)

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett knew Brad Richardson’s injury was serious when the center crumpled to the ice after a collision with Canucks defenseman Nikita Tryamkin 11:23 into the second period of the Coyotes’ 3-2, overtime loss on Thursday in Vancouver.

He was right. Coyotes GM John Chayka confirmed an earlier report from TSN’s Bob McKenzie that Richardson suffered a broken tibia and fibula. Richardson underwent surgery Friday morning and the Coyotes announced he was “stabilized.”

“We’re still waiting to see what the plan of care is,” Chayka said via text message. “No timeline (for recovery) has been set.”

The Coyotes announced Friday night that Richardson is out of the lineup indefinitely after a successful surgery. Given the severity of the injury, Richardson’s season could very well be in jeopardy, but Chayka said the Coyotes have not ruled out a return to the lineup this season.

“We just know it’s long term,” he said. “We’ll see how it progresses through his rehab.”

Richardson, who is in the second year of a three-year, $6.25 million deal, has played well for the Coyotes in his second season in Arizona. He is tied for second on the team in goals (five), tied for third in points (nine) and is winning 52.6 percent of his faceoffs.

The injury bug has hit the Coyotes hard this season. Goalie Mike Smith missed 12 games with a left leg injury, left wing Jamie McGinn missed five games with an upper-body injury, defenseman Michael Stone missed nine games with knee and upper-body injuries and center Martin Hanzal missed five games with a lower-body injury, along with more minor injuries to other players.

The Coyotes are not alone, however. The 2016-17 NHL season may well be remembered as the season of injuries. Too many key players have missed significant time.

Penguins center Sidney Crosby missed six games with at least his third concussion and Penguins goalie Matt Murray missed a month with a broken hand. Tampa forward Steven Stamkos will miss at least four months with a lateral meniscus tear, Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau will miss about six weeks with a broken finger, Devils forward Taylor Hall will miss three to four weeks with a torn left meniscus. Sabres center Jack Eichel hasn’t played yet this season due to a high-ankle sprain, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is still out with what looks like a groin injury and Kings forward Marian Gaborik is still out with a foot injury. Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau is out 3-4 months with a leg injury, Sabres forward Evander Kane missed 13 games after cracking three ribs in the season opener, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron missed time a lower-body injury, and Canadiens goalie Carey Price missed start of the season with a severe case of the flu, among others.

Richardson’s absence from the lineup could create more playing time for one or more of the Coyotes’ youngest centers: Christian Dvorak and Dylan Strome. Strome played his seventh game of the season in Vancouver. In addition to Strome and Dvorak, the Coyotes have Martin Hanzal, Laurent Dauphin and Jordan Martinook, who came into the season at left wing but has moved to center to help stabilize the position. Arizona also has Tyler Gaudet as an option in Tucson, where Dvorak is also currently playing. Chayka said the team could explore external options, but the current thinking is to fill from within.

Richardson’s injury could also put to rest the recent trade rumors swirling around Hanzal. A league source said Thursday that there was nothing to those rumors anyway, but without Richardson in the lineup, the Coyotes can ill afford to trade Hanzal.

Sharks at Coyotes
When: 6 p.m., Saturday
Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale
TV: FOX Sports Arizona
Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM
Records: Coyotes 5-9-2. Sharks 9-8-2.

Injury report: Coyotes — C Brad Richardson (broken right tibia and fibula) is out indefinitely. LW Tobias Rieder (lower body) is day to day. Sharks — Fs Melker Karlsson (left foot/ankle) and Tomas Hertl (lower body) are day to day. Karlsson could play but Hertl flew back to the Bay Area for further tests, the Mercury News reported.

Scouting the Sharks: San Jose lost its second straight game, a 3-2, defeat to the Blues, and has fallen three points behind first-place Anaheim in the Pacific Division. San Jose is just 2 for 23 on the power play in its last eight games San Jose had gone 11 straight games without allowing a power-play goal, including 26 straight kills, before St. Louis went 1 for 4. D Brent Burns and F Joe Pavelski lead the team with 14 points apiece; Burns has a team-high six goals.

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