"It's a fairly significant knee injury. We're preparing for the worst."The third weekend of January has been unkind to Queen's sweet-shooting forward Mitch Leger, who went down Friday in the Golden Gaels' loss to Toronto.
— Queen's men's basketball assistant coach Duncan Cowan, in the Kingston Whig-Standard
Two seasons ago, at the same point on the schedule, Leger ended up in the hospital with stomach pains only hours after hitting a buzzer-beater to beat Ottawa. It cost him a chance to play against Carleton, the mountain to the Gaels' Sisyphus.
Queen's history prof Geoffrey S. Smith said at that time that the Gaels without Leger was like "Canada without Tim Hortons." That was when he was a freshman, and he's only continued to develop his game since. Talk about rotten luck.
Gaels basketball star suffers knee injury; Season in jeopardy for Kingston-born Leger (Mike Koreen, Kingston Whig-Standard)
Update, 1:49 P.M. Jan. 20: (Andrew) My Queen's Journal colleague Amrit Ahluwalia (of There Is No Original Name For This Sports Blog) spoke to Leger yesterday for an article in today's paper. Here's the key quotes:
“After it first happened, the U of T people thought it was a partially torn MCL,” he said. “The news is better than it could have been. I don’t need surgery. It’s a second degree strain on my MCL. … I’ll be out 4-6 weeks. Best case scenario, I’ll be back for playoffs, but I’ll probably just start training for next year.”
As for the team handling the loss, Leger said the experience of losing starters last year will have prepared the team to pick up without too much concern.
“They’ll be okay,” he said. “We lost Ryan [Hairsine] for the whole season last year so it’s not the first time our starts have been out. This is a really tough weekend to be out, against the top two teams in the country, but the older guys like Ryan and Baris [Ondul] will pick up the load.”
Sounds like the initial suggestions that his season is over might be correct. It will be very tough for the Gaels to do much in the playoffs without Leger, as the offence runs through him. Still, this isn't a long-term crisis, as most of Queen's key players are in their first, second or third years. It sounds like Leger will be fully recovered by next year, and the team should be more of a force then with another year of experience.