DETROIT A severe injury suffered in a game, he could understand. But when center Kris Drapers season was temporarily halted because of a fluke injury, that was disappointing.
Its disappointing but I have to deal with it, Draper said Thursday, a day after suffering a partially torn left rotator cuff during a morning skate collision with goalie Curtis Joseph.
Draper said he was coming down on a slap shot when his stick caught Josephs mask.
I didnt see him coming at all, said Draper, who wasnt sure initially what had occurred. But I felt something in my shoulder, and at first I was just hoping it was a stinger and would go away, but obviously it didnt.
Just the way it happened, how it was an accident, obviously you play games and accept those (injuries), but something like this, its tough, Draper said. But its just something I have to deal with.
Im going to take the positive out of it and make sure to do what I have to do to get back.
He said he heard from Joseph throughout the day Wednesday, and again Thursday morning.
He feels terrible. I know he does, Draper said. It was an accident. I know how bad he feels about it. As a teammate, you never want to be the one to cause an injury, and especially a freak injury, and thats what it was, just a freak injury.
Draper, an unrestricted free agent this summer, was enjoying a career-best season with 24 goals, 16 assists and 40 points. He has a team-best plus-22 plus-minus rating, and remains the leading candidate to win the Selke Trophy for best defensive forward.
Center Mark Mowers, who replaced Draper in the lineup and scored the winner in Wednesdays 2-1 victory over Calgary, made a terrific move on the goal that was replayed endlessly by the national sports shows.
Although happy for Mowers, teammates needled him about the attention he was getting.
I cant wait to get this day over, he said while being mobbed by reporters.
That goal brought me out of my seat, Draper said. I may not get my job back if he keeps doing that.
Mowers has been a pleasant surprise this season, as have many other recalls from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League, stepping in during Decembers rash of injuries and again in recent weeks.
Its a credit to the organization finding these players, and to the players themselves, Coach Dave Lewis said.