Sunday, April 1, 2001
ATLANTA (AP) -- New York Rangers rookie defenseman Tomas Kloucek
tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Sunday and is
expected to be sidelined into next season.
Early in the third period of New York's 4-2 victory over the Atlanta
Thrashers, Kloucek hit his knee against the boards as he tried
unsuccessfully to check Ray Ferraro.
Kloucek will likely have surgery similar to that of Rangers goalie
Mike Richter, who tore his right ACL on Feb. 19. The rehabilitation
from that operation was estimated to last six months.
Rangers captain Mark Messier, fearing that further examination will
show that Kloucek also tore the medial collateral ligament, was
shaken by the news.
"It's unbelievable," Messier said. "Just seeing him come along how
he has ... a break like that is just terrible for him and for the
team. We've played well the past few games, but this injury really
puts a damper on that."
Kloucek, New York's sixth selection and 131st overall in the 1998
draft, had one goal and four assists in 43 games. He missed two games
with a bruised heel before returning to the lineup Saturday at New
"He's worked hard this year to get to playing like he is right now,"
defenseman Brian Leetch said. "He's a big part of our team, and this
summer could have only helped him gain more strength.
"So now he's got a long road ahead of him to try to get back to
where he is right now. It's not going to be easy."
New York, which only has three games remaining in its fourth
straight non-playoff season, entered Sunday with 245 man-games lost
In addition to Richter, the Rangers also lost defenseman Vladimir
Malakhov to a season-ending knee injury. Malakhov, signed as a free
agent in the offseason, played only three games this season.
The Rangers have also been without their leading scorer Theo Fleury,
who entered a substance abuse treatment center in February.
Center Tim Taylor missed his 40th game Sunday with a groin injury,
and defenseman Brad Brown broke his right foot Feb. 23 and was lost
for the season.
Two other defensemen are day to day. Rich Pilon is out with a
strained hamstring, and Sylvain Lefebvre is sidelined because of a