Team Canada will be without their top centre at the world championships after John Tavares was sent home on the eve of the opener after suffering an oblique injury during practice on Thursday.
Leafs centre John Tavares sustained an oblique injury in preparation for the World Championships. Tavares will return to Toronto for further evaluation by the Leafs medical staff and a further update will follow in the coming days.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) May 9, 2019
Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi took Tavares’ spot on the top line for the remainder of practice, leaving questions about what coach Alain Vigneault will do to fill the void on a line that also features Golden Knights Mark Stone and Jonathan Marchessault.
This is not the first time Tavares has seen bad luck with Team Canada, as he suffered a torn meniscus during a quarterfinal game at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.
Tavares’ immediate return home from Slovakia means his injury could be serious. Some mild oblique strains can be resolved in a few days, but severe strains can require surgery with a recovery time of 3-4 months. Regardless of the severity, some solace for Maple Leafs fans is that Tavares has an entire summer ahead to rehab before he laces up for the blue and white in the fall.
Canada opens play Friday against Finland. They finished fourth last year after falling to the U.S. in the bronze medal game.
More NHL coverage from Yahoo Sports