The St. Louis Blues have announced another long-term injury, this time to defenseman Carl Gunnarsson. The veteran will miss the rest of the season with a right knee injury sustained in the Blues’ recent game against the Los Angeles Kings. He is still being evaluated to determine the full extent of the injury. The team also announced that Ivan Barbashev underwent successful surgery on his ankle and will be re-evaluated in six weeks, as reported previously.
Gunnarsson, 34, has been a quiet soldier for the blues the last several seasons, rarely getting into the lineup but being ready whenever he does. A veteran of 629 regular season NHL games, he has just 73 since the start of the 2018-19 season. An injury like this, if it is as serious as originally feared, could potentially end that long career, given Gunnarsson is an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and will turn 35 just after the next season starts.
If it is the end, at least in St. Louis, he’ll leave with the respect of his teammates. Brayden Schenn called Gunnarsson an “absolute warrior” and a “hell of a teammate” after last night’s game. The depth defenseman played in 19 games on the Blues’ 2019 Stanley Cup run, actually scoring the winning goal in overtime of game two against the Boston Bruins. That goal led to one of the most hilarious anecdotes of the playoffs, as Gunnarsson explained after the game he called his shot while standing next to head coach Craig Berube at the urinal during intermission.
For now, he’ll face a long rehab. But he’ll always be a Stanley Cup champion.