The Canadian National Junior team will need to move forward without its captain after news broke Thursday morning that 19-year-old Kirby Dach had indeed suffered a right wrist/hand fracture in the team’s lone pre-tournament tune-up game against Russia on Wednesday evening.
Making matters worse is the fact that the hit that caused this injury stemmed directly from a personal vendetta with Russian opponent Ilya Safonov. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound KHL regular caught Dach with his head down just 15 seconds into the third period. The hit sent Dach’s stick flying end-over-end into the offensive zone, and the forward directly to the ice.
Ilya Safonov throws the body pic.twitter.com/4jWIq12hOs
— Dylan Griffing (@Dylan_Griffing) December 24, 2020
It took Dach three shifts and seven minutes of game time, but an opportunity to exact some revenge on the fellow 19-year-old occurred at the 12-minute mark of the final frame. This decision, however, turned out to be an ill-advised play, and one that ultimately cost Dach the remainder of the tournament.
This is… uh… very bad! Kirby Dach (@NHLBlackhawks) tries to play the body in the neutral zone, and immediately heads to the bench.
Appears to have injured his hand/wrist/arm area on this play. pic.twitter.com/NRooXud5eL
— J.D. Burke (@JDylanBurke) December 24, 2020
Although not a devastating hit by any account, the awkward open-ice collision left Dach without a glove on and grasping at his right wrist while showing immediate signs of discomfort on his way down the Canadian tunnel to the X-ray centre.
“We don’t yet have an update,” Canadian head coach Andre Tourigny said in his post-game media availability Wednesday. “We will need an X-ray later on. But that’s why you have 25 players. If they could, the Germans would have brought in a lot of players. If they can’t, we can’t. But Kirby really tries to bring everyone into the fight, play the right way, He doesn’t force things; he’s the ultimate team player out there.”
On Thursday morning the devastating news dropped that Dach has left the Edmonton hub-city ‘bubble’ and is en route back to Chicago, where Blackhawks team doctors will assess the injury and determine if surgery is the best course of action for his fracture.
Drafted third overall by Chicago in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the St. Albert, AB. product suited up for 64 games with the Hawks during the 2019-10 season, recording eight goals, 23 points and 24 penalty minutes, before adding a goal, six points and four penalty minutes in nine postseason contests this summer.
Carrying about a rather lengthy figure himself, Dach is listed at 6-foot-4 and 200-pounds, but has spent the better part of the past month in quarantine in hopes of helping lead the Canadian group to World Junior glory. Whether Wednesday’s injury was the result of a lack of recent strength-building activities/exercise, a personal vendetta on a player who had just sent Dach head-over-heels, or quite frankly a fluke accident, the result is devastating in nature for the Canadian team, the Chicago Blackhawks and Kirby Dach.
Somewhere, New York Rangers’ general manager Jeff Gorton is shaking his head, muttering, “I told you so” to anyone who dares stick their head into his office.