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Broken neck puts Michael Nylander’s season (and career) in jeopardy

Oct 25, 2010, 1:25 PM EST

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It’s been a rough handful of seasons for former NHL forward Michael Nylander.

After producing at more than a point per game pace alongside Jaromir Jagr with the New York Rangers, the crafty forward signed a deal with the Washington Capitals that proved to be a bad fit for GM George McPhee’s salary cap. Nylander became one of the first player’s to receive the “Wade Redden” treatment as he was banished to the minors because his salary didn’t conform more than his style of play. He hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2008-09 season, but on the bright side, at least he was getting paid.

He spent time bouncing around the AHL and foreign leagues in 2009-10 before being loaned to the Rochester Amerks – the Florida Panthers AHL affiliate – this season.

A sad situation got even worse, though, as the center broke his neck in a game against the Grand Rapids Griffins.

“He’ll definitely have to do some soul-searching when he has recovered,” Amerks coach Chuck Weber said. “The little bit I do know him, I don’t think this is the way he’ll want to go out.”

Facing season-ending neck surgery at 38, you have to wonder if this is it for the hard luck pivot. Not many players fight back from injuries this severe at such an advanced age, especially without the immediate carrot of possible NHL play dangling in front of them.

If this is it for Nylander, he’d go out in a sad way but nonetheless made a nice career for himself. He scored 209 goals and 470 assists for 679 points in 920 games stretched over 15 journeyman seasons in the NHL. He might not go out “on top” but would have nothing to be ashamed of after a lengthy, productive career.

(H/T to Puck Daddy.)

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