If the Buffalo Sabres ever start playing this season, they’ll do so without a blossoming right winger.
Corey Tropp, who was expected to resume his role on the third or fourth line, will need surgery on his right knee and will miss the rest of the season. The 23-year-old, who was playing in Rochester because of the lockout, suffered the injury Friday during the Amerks’ season opener. He told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on Monday that he damaged his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.
“Appreciate all the support,” Tropp wrote on Twitter. “Tough break but that’s life.”
Tropp needed just 24 seconds to score the Amerks’ first goal of the season, and he added their second less than 15 minutes later. He got hurt with seven minutes left in the 6-5 shootout win over Syracuse.
After getting hit along the boards during a five-on-three power play, he hopped to the front of the Crunch net to screen the goaltender despite being in obvious pain. He then slowly crept to the bench on one leg and was helped to the dressing room. He left Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial on crutches.
“You hope for the best, but you also know your body,” Tropp told the Democrat and Chronicle on Monday. “I knew something didn’t feel right.”
Tropp played 34 games for the Sabres last season, recording three goals, eight points and 20 penalty minutes during his rookie year. He added nine goals and 22 points in 27 games for the Amerks.
Rochester right wing Mark Mancari scored the tying goal while Tropp was inching off the ice Friday. He’s one of the possible replacements for Tropp in Buffalo if the lockout ends.
Mancari spent the first six years of his pro career in the Sabres’ organization. After failing to stick in the NHL, he signed a one-year deal with Vancouver last season. The 27-year-old re-signed with the Sabres and hopeful his time has arrived.
“I’m not being arrogant, but I still think I can play in the NHL,” Mancari said. “That’s my goal. That’s my dream. That’s where I want to be.”
Mancari has 90 goals during the last three American Hockey League seasons, making him one of the most potent scorers in the minor leagues. He has a goal and an assist in the Amerks’ opening two games, and he also scored the game-winning shootout goal Friday.
He has played just 42 games in the NHL, recording three goals and 13 points. The 6-foot-4 forward with the booming slap shot figures a lack of speed kept him from staying in the big leagues, so he dropped 20 pounds over the summer.
Amerks coach Ron Rolston named Mancari as an alternate captain. Mancari knows his experience can help younger players, but he’s open for help from them, too. Cody Hodgson, Luke Adam and Kevin Porter have more NHL time than he does.
“I think the guidance off the ice, the guidance of the ups and downs in the games when you go through so many for eight years, I think I can help these guys and hopefully push them in the right direction and do what I can to help them,” Mancari said. “Also, I’m going to learn from them, too. They’re in the NHL for some reason that I’m not, so it’s a two-way street.”
The NHL, meanwhile, continues to be in shutdown mode, but talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association are scheduled to resume today in Toronto. If the sides fail to progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement, more games are expected to be canceled this week. All games through Oct. 24 have already been axed.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly are expected to meet with union executive director Donald Fehr and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr.
“It’s fair to say that we will be looking for ways to advance the puck on the main issues — how to move the process forward,” Daly told The Associated Press in an email.
Bettman and Donald Fehr took part only briefly during last week’s negotiations that featured four separate bargaining sessions over the two days.
So far, the sides have set aside only Tuesday to negotiate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.