tampabay.com

Broken finger sidelines St. Louis

The NHL's defending MVP will miss 2-4 weeks after being struck by a shot during Lightning practice.

By TOM JONES
Published November 14, 2005


TAMPA - The Lightning's troubles got worse Sunday.

Defending league MVP Marty St. Louis will miss two to four weeks after breaking his left ring finger during practice at the St. Pete Times Forum. St. Louis raced off the ice, dripping blood from his hand after being struck by a shot from defenseman Darryl Sydor during a power-play drill.

X-rays showed a fractured bone near the tip of St. Louis' finger and a fractured nail bed. Doctors at Tampa General Hospital removed St. Louis' nail, repaired the fracture to the nail bed then reattached the nail.

St. Louis led the NHL in scoring in 2003-04 with 94 points. He is tied for fifth on the Lightning this season in goals (five) and is fourth in points (13).

"Obviously, any time you lose one of your top players, it's a huge disappointment," Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said.

After going through the 2003-04 Stanley Cup regular season without a major injury, the Lightning has two already this season. Goalie Sean Burke has been out since Oct.29 with a strained groin.

"We knew we weren't going to go through a whole season again without any injuries," Feaster said. "Injuries are a part of the game. While you don't want to have them, they do create opportunities for other people to step in and contribute."

What hurts is the Lightning lost two valuable minor-leaguers last summer when Shane Willis and Eric Perrin turned down Lightning offers and opted to play in Europe.

"When I talked to Shane and Eric over the summer, I mentioned that there was no way we would stay healthy like that again," Feaster said. "This just gives others a chance."

Feaster said the Lightning has no plans to call anyone up from the minors. Forward Chris Dingman, who has been a healthy scratch the past 11 games, is expected to rejoin the lineup.

Because he was feeling the effects of his surgical procedure, St. Louis was not available for comment.

"It's disappointing, but these things happen," Feaster said. "It's not that he was injured because he wasn't in shape or hadn't trained well. He wasn't off doing something foolish and got hurt. He was hurt working hard in a practice and was injured during a hockey drill.

"You don't want injuries. You try your best to avoid them. But it's hockey. They're going to happen. I have confidence that the guys are going to rally around this."