Puck Daddy - NHL

The New Jersey Devils' 3-9-1 tailspin to start the 2010-11 season has made them the laughingstock of hockey and probably cost them a shot at a division title. It didn't cost them a chance at a playoff spot quite yet, especially since the AHL-quality defense will eventually give way to NHL-quality players like Anton Volchenkov(notes) as they return from injury.

But the climb to respectability, and then contention, has just gotten more perilous for the Devils: According to the team, left wing Zach Parise(notes) "underwent exploratory arthroscopic surgery today on right knee; torn meniscus was repaired. He'll be out of action 3 months."

From Fire & Ice:

Parise initially injured his knee while skating during his off-season training in August and tried to play through the injury, but it gradually became worse. He appeared to aggravate the injury when he fell following a second period collision with Los Angeles' Kyle Clifford(notes) on Saturday and sat out the third period of that 3-1 loss before flying back to New Jersey on the red eye with general manager Lou Lamoriello.

On the bright side, looks like Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) will finally have a chance to play some quality minutes on left wing ...

It's a crushing blow, this injury. Parise competes every night. His loss affects No.1 center Travis Zajac(notes), with whom his has incomparable chemistry. It hurts special teams, leadership and further diminishes the punch from what's been a punch-less offensive group.

Hard to imagine how things could have gone from bad to worse for a Devils team suffering through its most terrible start since the Mickey Mouse days. Except they just did.

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