Another Shoulder to Cry On: Josh Norris Out for the Season

Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

The Ottawa Senators announced today that star centre Josh Norris will need shoulder surgery and be out for the rest of the season.

Norris hurt his shoulder back in October while taking a faceoff, just 5 games into an 8-year deal worth $63.6 million. On Saturday night, in just his third game back, Hockey Night in Canada cameras showed Norris cringe in the neutral zone during an innocent looking play in the third period, leading to speculation he may have tweaked the shoulder a little.

It was way worse than that. He’s now going to need surgery and his season is over.

In November, Norris had sought out several opinions on the injury – five doctors and two specialists – and finally decided on rehab over surgery. The Sens called it a completely different shoulder injury than those in his prior medical history. They include the one in January 2019 at the World Juniors. That one required surgery, ending his season at the University of Michigan. Last year, Norris missed 16 games with another shoulder issue, but still racked up a career best 35 goals and 55 points in 66 games. And his 2022-23 NHL season will now end with a total of 8 games played. That works out to a pay scale of almost $8 million per game.

The situation is incredibly similar to Shane Pinto’s story from last season. Both players tried to come back from October injuries and almost immediately re-injured their shoulders, ending their seasons. Pinto lasted less than one game, while Norris played three. It’s not unfair to wonder, in both cases, if their shoulders still had some healing left to do. They were definitely extra cautious in Norris’s return. He wasn’t allowed to take a single faceoff and his rehabbed shoulder was covered in kinesiology tape.

The Sens had better luck with Colin White’s pre-season shoulder injury last year. White returned and remained healthy for the last quarter of the 2021-22 season, just in time for the Sens to turn the page on him and buy out his contract.

The Norris news opens the NHL door for 2020 Sens first rounder Ridly Greig, who’s now been called up from Belleville. But Greig has had his own nasty history of shoulder problems. He was hurt at the World Juniors in August, which meddled with the start of his pro season. He’s also been plagued by other undisclosed injuries while playing in the WHL with Brandon.

Norris is just 23 years old. He’s now injured the same shoulder three times in less than four years and this will be his second surgery on it. Unfortunately, that’s the definition of injury-prone, and not at all what anyone had hoped for when they signed such a huge, long-term contract.

But all is not lost. Sens fans will recall another player who was also labelled injury-prone in his early days. At age 28, this player had just missed more than 24 games three seasons in a row. Not only did he shake off that label and go on to become one of Ottawa’s more resilient players, Daniel Alfredsson also ended up in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

By Steve Warne

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