Puck Daddy - NHL

Michael Nylander(notes) was loaned to the Rochester Americans by the Washington Capitals, giving the 38-year-old center one more shot at returning to the NHL while in the Florida Panthers' organization.

The AHL Amerks needed a No. 1 center, and he fit that role, with six points in his first seven games with the team.

Alas, those will be the only seven games he'll play this season for Rochester, if the diagnosis is correct. He's scheduled for surgery on Monday to repair an injured vertebra in his neck, which was damaged on a hit to the boards during Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

He's expected to miss the season, and according to the Democrat and Chronicle, his coach fears it's the end of his career as well:

"He'll definitely have to do some soul-searching when he has recovered," Amerks coach Chuck Weber said. "The little bit I do know him, I don't think this is the way he'll want to go out."

Nylander was injured when he was checked along the right-wing boards by Griffins' defenseman Brendan Smith(notes). With Nylander in control of the puck, Smith delivered a solid hit from behind and Nylander fell into the boards at a somewhat awkward angle. The hit appeared to be legal and no penalty was assessed.

Nylander knew immediately that he was seriously hurt. He skated directly to the bench, leaving behind a trail of equipment and poignant words.

"Poignant words?" Guy breaks his neck and suddenly he's Maya Angelou?

There's no available video on the hit, although we're working to acquire it, so check back. (And email puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com if you come across any.)

Hopefully this isn't the end for Nylander. He's a player that deserves some measure of redemption, having gone from an 83-point man as Jaromir Jagr's(notes) pivot to a free-agent bust holding a no-trade clause with the Capitals to having his neck broken in an AHL game.

Wonder if Nylander and Edmonton Oilers fans are still asking "what if?"

Photo via Bridget Samuels on Flickr.

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