The hits keep coming for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team announced today that Max Domi underwent successful surgery to repair a labral tear of his right shoulder and has been given a recovery timeline of five to six months. The surgery was performed today in Colorado. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen released a short statement:
Max had been experiencing some discomfort in his shoulder, which he brought to our attention last week and a subsequent examination revealed a labral tear. It was determined that surgery was the best course of action and we look forward to Max’s return early next season.
As Aaron Portzline of The Athletic points out, this is the same surgery that Blue Jackets forward Gustav Nyquist underwent in November, causing him to miss the entire season. Domi will miss at least the first month of the 2021-22 campaign.
Domi, 26, was supposed to be an answer for Columbus down the middle when they acquired him from the Montreal Canadiens, but it certaintly didn’t work out in his first year as a Blue Jacket. Things quickly deteriorated between Domi and head coach John Tortorealla, who obviously didn’t trust him in the middle of the ice or in the defensive zone. Only three forwards—Patrik Laine, Jack Roslovic and Cam Atkinson—started a lower percentage of their shifts in the defensive zone and Domi ended up taking fewer than 400 draws on the year, his lowest total since 2016-17.
Tortorella certainly wasn’t the first coach to question whether Domi could handle the defensive responsibility that the center ice positon brings, but it will continue to be an issue for whoever replaces him behind the Columbus bench. The team traded away Pierre-Luc Dubois early in the year and then moved Nick Foligno and Riley Nash at the deadline. While a return to Columbus for Foligno seems like a plausible outcome this summer, even he isn’t a true center. The team doesn’t have a ton of options down the middle, so when Domi does eventually return, he may get another chance to take that role for the team.
Of course, given Domi is set to hit unrestricted free agency after next season, he’ll be motivated to show potential suitors what he can do. He also is another trade candidate for that reason, though the injury complicates things. The Blue Jackets seemingly have several hard decisions to make this summer on who will be the core moving forward.