Once again, the Regina Pats are without their captain.
The team announced on Monday that 20-year-old defenceman Colby Williams will be out indefinitely as he undergoes surgery to repair nerves in his hand. The surgery is related to the injury Williams suffered in the off-season causing him to miss the first 16 games of the year.
“His hand hasn’t improved; a nerve thing can be a slow thing. He saw the doctor a couple of weeks ago and this was what was recommended,” said head coach and general manager John Paddock.
While the timeline for Williams’ return isn’t set in stone, Paddock did express hope that the captain would be able to return to the lineup in mid-February.
Williams left for Edmonton early Monday morning and was unavailable for comment.
According to Paddock, Williams could have played through the injury as it wasn’t really affecting him too much on the ice. Ultimately though, he said they had to make the decision that was best for Williams’ future, no matter how tough it is for the Regina native and the team.
“This has been a disaster for him. Unless it gets fixed he might lose his pro-career, one.” noted Paddock. “Two, it’s a disaster for the organization when you lose your best player.”
Since returning to the line-up around the middle of November, Williams has been nothing short of brilliant for the Pats.
Everyone was fairly cautious when Williams returned to the line-up, especially the coaching staff, who expected Williams to ease back into the swing of things.
The good news for the Pats is they do have plenty of experience playing without Williams this year and have been able to keep their heads above water without him for a good chunk of the season.
“We do know we can win without him, it’s just obviously hard,” said defenceman Chase Harrison.
“When we got him back and how good he was, it kind of sucks. We do know we can win without him, it’s not impossible.”
With the always daunting road-trip through the United States Division on the horizon for the Pats, the team now hopes to keep in the playoff race.
“We need guys to step up and when we get Colby back we’re just a stronger team with him in the line-up,” said Brooks.
“So when he comes back, (we’ll) hopefully have ourselves in a position where Colby can come in and take that back end and take that leadership role over again and carry us to the playoffs and hopefully do some damage.”
The Pats are currently holding down one of two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference. They have a seven point lead over the Saskatoon Blades. The Pats are also three points back of the Moose Jaw Warriors for third in the East Division.
The Pats leave for B.C. on Wednesday night before taking on the Kootenay Ice on Friday. After that, the Pats play five more games on the road before hosting the Prince Albert Raiders Jan. 23 at the Brandt Centre.