Source says Tavares has a knee injury, done for Olympics. No word beyond that as of yet. #IslesCanada's coach Mike Babcock confirmed in a post game injury that Tavares was out for the rest of the tournament with a "leg injury."
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) February 19, 2014
Babcock on Tavares: Leg injury, out of the OlympicsTHE INJURY/HIT
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) February 19, 2014
Thanks to @myregularface on Twitter for a nice GIF of the hit Tavares took from Latvia's Arturs Kulda.
From the gif, you can see Kulda's right quad come into contact with Tavares' left knee from the side, swinging it around to where it is eventually stopped by the boards.You can see Tavares hold his left leg up in a bent position, not wanting it to hit the ice and bracing for impact. In my opinion, looks like his left knee moved laterally and may have torqued. Tavares immediately hit the ice following the hit and appeared in pain, having a hard time getting up and skating to the bench (which he eventually did without any help).
Since the hit occurred to the outside of the knee, the first thought to my mind is a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury. The MCL is located on the inside of the knee and connects the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone) at the knee joint. As one of the four major ligaments in the knee, the MCL is one of the strongest ligaments in the body.
An MCL injury most commonly occurs when a skate sustains a blow to the outside of the knee which stresses and torques the joint, causing damage to the ligament. Depending on the severity of the injury (grade 1 strains and up), it can take between two weeks to several months. Tavares will undergo standard RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) protocol for a few days to minimize swelling in the knee, and then may undergo an MRI.
The fact that Tavares didn't return to the bench for the third period and was immediately ruled out for the rest of the tournament in post-game interviews is not a good sign for Islanders fans. The knee is a vulnerable area of the body for hockey players and severe injuries can occur, even on hits like the one Kulda applied to Tavares.