TAMPA — Mike Kostka was coming off a great game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, scoring his first NHL career goal against his old teammates, and it proved to be the game-winner.
Now he’s sidelined for about a month.
Kostka suffered a lower-body injury on Tuesday that will keep him out 4-6 weeks, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after Wednesday’s practice. It’s a tough blow for the Kostka, who made the Blackhawks’ training camp roster as their eighth defenseman and was coming off a solid game against Toronto.
What happened to Kostka isn’t exactly clear. Quenneville said “the extra guys were skating out there (on Tuesday) and he got hit.” Kostka’s injury, Quenneville said, will not require surgery.
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The Blackhawks’ roster is currently at 21 players. Quenneville said the team will not call anyone up for tomorrow night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sheldon Brookbank had a strong performance against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, and this could be an opportunity for more playing time. When asked if Brookbank or Michal Rozsival would play tomorrow against Tampa Bay, Quenneville wouldn’t say.
“You get tested, you get challenged,” Quenneville said. “We had eight guys, and in one spot we were (rotating) three. We were even thinking of using him offensively, as well, up front — any of those guys — to keep them all playing. (Kostka) was coming off a real good game, but that’s where it’s at.”
Kostka made his Blackhawks debut against the Lightning earlier this month. It’s a group he knows well: Kostka was part of the 2011-12 Norfolk Admirals, who won the Calder Cup for that season. Lightning coach Jon Cooper, who coached the Admirals in 2011-12, talked about Kostka prior to the injury announcement.
“I want to say something bad about him but I just can’t. I’m a better person for having coached him,” Cooper said. “He’s a great talent. I put him in the category for guys who were pushed aside, team to team, cut, traded, set out to sea and found a way to get back and now plays in the NHL. For him to go to arguably one of the best D corps in the league, for them to usually carry seven and open up a spot to carry an eighth, that’s a tribute to Mike.”