Hackett facing a long stay on shelf

By PAT HICKEY
Montreal Gazette
Jeff Hackett will learn the full extent of his shoulder injury today when the results of his MRI become available, but it appears that the veteran goaltender will return to action later rather than sooner.
'He was in the gym this morning working out, and our plans are to keep him in the best shape possible, but he won't play again until his shoulder is completely healed," goalie coach Rollie Melanson said yesterday.
Melanson said the situation was different from last season, when Hackett tried to make two premature returns after breaking a bone in his right hand.
"His shoulder is dislocated, and that's different from a break," said Melanson. "Last year, he came back and it wasn't the break that caused the problem, it was calcium deposits which had built up. With a dislocation, you don't want to take a chance if it's not completely healed, because it will just go out again.
"He won't play until he's ready and, if it means an extra three weeks, then we'll take it. I know Jeff wants to get back as soon as possible, but we want him to be able to play."
Hackett missed 55 games last season, going on the injured reserve list on three different occasions.
While Hackett will hold off making any comments until he gets the results of the MRI, Melanson said the goalie was frustrated by the latest setback. It's expected that he will miss two months as the result of a freak accident 13 seconds into Saturday night's 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
"He was saying that you make those moves all the time and he just fell the wrong way," Melanson said of the play, which saw Hackett dive on a loose puck. Buffalo's J.P Dumont skated into Hackett after the fall, but the injury occurred on the initial dive.
The Canadiens received some more bad news when they announced that Oleg Petrov is out indefinitely with a bruised left shoulder. And Gino Odjick missed practice yesterday with a chronic back problem, but it's not considered serious.
He slammed into the boards last Friday in Washington and missed the Buffalo game. He was originally listed as day-to-day but coach Michel Therrien said yesterday that Petrov would not play this weekend. The Canadiens have a return meeting against the Sabres Friday in Buffalo and then play the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday at the Molson Centre.
The Canadiens recalled goaltender Mathieu Garon from the Quebec Citadelles yesterday but you can bet that Jose Theodore, who has been sharing the No. 1 job with Hackett, will see most of the work until Hackett returns.
While Therrien said all the right things about having confidence in Garon and taking the goaltending assignments one game at a time, he also anointed Theodore as "our go-to guy."
"You hate to lose a player like this but I look at this as a challenge and I'm ready for it," Theodore said when asked if he was ready for an increased workload. "The situation is the same as it was last year and I think I proved that I can be a No. 1 goalie in this league. I'm the kind of player who gets better when he plays a lot."
Garon played 11 NHL games last season as Theodore's backup but he might not see as much action this time around. He posted good numbers - a 2.44 goals-against average with a 4-5-1-1 record and two shutouts against Atlanta - and said that experience provided him with confidence.
He was a winner in all four games he has played in Quebec this season but noted that the calibre of player is higher in the NHL.
"We worked a lot on standing up in today's practice," explained Garon. "You have to stand up more in the NHL. You can't cheat because the shooters are too good."
Therrien also juggled some lines yesterday and moved Chad Kilger to the No. 1 line with Yanic Perreault and Brian Savage. While noting that it was Monday and he had time to change his mind before Friday's game, Kilger may be the big body the Canadiens want to see crashing the net.