Leafs’ Van Ryn done for the year

Mike Van Ryn
Mike Van Ryn (Mike Van Ryn)

It appears this season will end before it even began for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mike Van Ryn.

On Friday morning, the oft-injured defenceman told reporters gathered at the Mastercard Centre he would be undergoing extensive left knee surgery on Oct. 22.

“It’s been a tough decision,” he said. “This has been going on for three weeks.

“I’m confident in the doctors, so I’m ready to just go ahead and start rehab and hopefully be back on the ice.”

Dr. Bob Litchfield of the University of Western Ontario’s Fowler Clinic will perform an osteotomy — a relatively common surgical operation whereby a bone is cut to modify its alignment.

Medical personnel had previously attempted to correct the problem by draining and scoping the knee, as well as injecting cortisone shots.

Asked about the news following today’s practice, Leafs head coach Ron Wilson voiced his approval.

“He’s making the right move,” he said. “I’m hoping that Mike is going to be able to handle the surgery and be able to make a comeback next year.”

Van Ryn’s rehabilitation and recovery is estimated to take at least six months, but given his injury history and nature of the surgery itself, many analysts believe the defenceman’s days in the NHL may be numbered.

The 30-year-old acknowledged past injuries may be a legitimate concern moving forward, but is optimistic about his chances of mounting a comeback.

“I don’t think I’ll have any problems,” he said. “It’s obviously been hard for me with the last few years not playing a lot, but I still think I can play in the league.

“It’s a road, but it’s one I’m ready for and I’ll work at it.”

Currently in the second and last year of his contract, the London, ON, native came to Toronto in the trade that shipped Brian McCabe to the Florida Panthers 13 months ago.

In his last two seasons spent with Florida and Toronto, Van Ryn has laced up in only 47 games.

Because he will be on long-term layoff, the $2.9 million US the blueliner is due to make this season will not count towards the Leafs’ salary cap.