WINNIPEG — Josh Morrissey’s all-star season with the Winnipeg Jets has come to an abrupt halt.
The veteran defenceman hit knee-on-knee with Vegas blue liner Zach Whitecloud early in Saturday’s Game 3 playoff match. He appeared to be favouring his right knee when he went to the bench and left at 4:34 and didn’t return.
The Golden Knights went on to win 5-4 in double overtime on Michael Amadio’s goal, and the news got worse for the Jets.
Head coach Rick Bowness told reporters after the game that Morrissey will be gone for the remainder of the series.
“He’s got a lower-body (injury) and he’s done for the series,” Bowness said. “Now, when we get into next week, I’ll be able to give you a better answer. I just know he’s done for the series.”
Morrissey, an alternate captain who had one assist in the series, set a franchise record for most points by a defenceman with 76 points in 78 games this season (16 goals, 60 assists). The Calgary product also ended the regular season tied for second in the NHL among defencemen in scoring.
The Jets host Game 4 on Monday and are down 2-1 in the series.
“We played all year long with a lot of injuries,” Bowness said. “Every team does and it’s next man up.
“(Morrissey is) a top five D in this league right now. He plays all the important minutes and he’s a guy that drives the offence. It’s a big hole, but we played the rest of the game without him and scored four, so we’re going to have to find a way to play the rest of the series without him because this series is far from over.”
Before reporters knew the seriousness of Morrissey’s injury, they asked some Jets players about competing without Morrissey after he left the ice.
“That was a good game, by all of us back there, just getting the job done,” Winnipeg defenceman Brenden Dillon said. “It was a resounding feeling that we deserved better in that game.
“I think we can take a lot of confidence with that, with one of our best players leaving early, first shift of the game, really. I thought we got the momentum going on our side and it was an unfortunate way to lose it, but it’s a best-of-seven here.”
After learning Morrissey will miss the rest of the series, Vegas head coach Bruce Cassidy said it won’t change his team’s approach.
“Obviously that’s a heavy-minute, highly productive player that they’ll miss and their depth will have to come through for them,” Cassidy said. “Someone else will have to step up.
“I mean, look at their D-corps today, right? They stepped up, obviously. Their guys were ready to play. That’s a tough break in the playoffs to lose a guy like that, but it won’t change how we’re going to play.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2023.
Judy Owen, The Canadian Press