Photo: Elsa

In his first season (of, hopefully, many) as a Washington Capital, Mikhail Grabovski has been one of the team’s most dependable players. He scored a hat trick in his first game, leads all forwards in possession, and is second only to Jay Beagle at winning face-offs. So when Grabovski went down with an ankle injury against the New Jersey Devils, the Capitals suffered a big loss.

Grabovski re-injured that same ankle one month later against the Florida Panthers on his first shift back on the ice. Since then Grabovski has not skated and Caps head coach Adam Oates has been noncommittal on when the Belarusian center would return.

On Monday, Tribuna’s Vadim Knyrko caught up with Grabovski and asked him about his injury. Grabovski revealed that he isn’t going to skate for another two weeks, pushing his return — at the earliest — into early April, the very end of the Caps’ season. That’s not good. Grabo also is not pleased with Bryce Salvador.

Fedor Fedin has your translation.

Mikhail, how is your health?
Mikhail Grabovski: It’s okay, going as scheduled. I’m getting better. I feel good, but the doctors say the rehab isn’t over. Don’t expect me on the ice for the next two weeks.

Do you remember how you got injured?
MG: Sure. The New Jersey defenseman Salvador came in from behind. To be honest, I didn’t notice him right away. He undercut me, our legs got tied up and I sprained a ligament.

Bryce Salvador is no good boy.
MG: After the injury I watched a few Devils game. Salvador is really not the cleanest player. I wouldn’t call him too dirty, but he likes to check you when no one is looking. Next time against New Jersey I’ll be more careful — you need to be on alert and keep an eye out. You can’t relax against NHL defensemen for a second. Almost the same thing happened when I aggravated it. I think I’m to blame — I got out there too early and aggravated the injury. I should’ve fully rehabbed.

It looked as if on the second play your opponent fell on your leg on purpose.
MG: You know, there are like ten such plays in every game. Probably I didn’t get lucky because I played not fully healed. The ankle is the most important part of body for the hockey player. On the ice, the leg is moving back and forth inside the skate. So it’s a troublesome injury. It felt okay at the practice, but I really wanted to play — I was hungry to play. I had the similar situation in my career a couple years ago, just with the other foot. I got hurt, I healed quickly and got injured again. Now I will heal fully and will not be reckless about it. Life doesn’t end here.

Have you skated already?
MG: A few days ago I skated for the first time since injury, by myself, without the team. In general, my leg doesn’t hurt. I’ll skate by myself for a week and then I’ll practice with the guys. Then I’ll gradually increase the load and will get into contact. I really want to play. I know I can help the team. If Washington will need me immediately, I’ll go out there and play through the pain.

Do your teammates ask you about your health?
MG: We meet in the locker room all the time. I have almost no limp walking around. They laugh and say, “Stop it! Come on, stop playing fool! You’re healthy!”, I have no cast, no bandage. They can’t look at my foot from the inside.

They think you’re just acting like you’re hurt?
MG: I don’t think so, but doesn’t mean they can’t tease me.

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  • JenniferH

    I read the title and said aloud — “That bleeping sucks.” [Grouchy face.] Thanks for the translation, Fedor, though. Sigh. Miss Grabo. 🙁

  • Rob W.
  • JH

    I hope Grabo indeed signs with the Caps.

  • Matt Lauer

    Some of the other Caps fans I know kind of generally forgot that we even had Grabo, he’s been gone so long. I was all like, “Whaaaaaaaaat?!!?” — Every other play I find myself saying, “That might’ve worked out if Grabo were there.”

  • johnnymorte

    I hope we resign Grabo. I feel like he belongs with us. Get it done McPhee. Sick of your BS. And get Sasha back while you’re at it. I’m sick of these North Americans and their forechecking. I want to see 1970’s firewagon run and gun soviet style hockey, the kind that gave me large boners under Gabby. Now that’s entertainment!

  • James Hare

    In 2 weeks it should be pretty clear whether Grabo playing again this season is worth it or not. I’m leaning towards not.

  • Rhino40

    Get better soon Misha:

    I look forward to seeing the KGB Line (Kuznetsov/Grabovski/Brouwer) in action.

    Hey, it could happen!

  • GuestZ

    Uhmayzing gif brosef. Good pull.

  • dcsportsfan85

    That’s almost too perfect of a line name for that not to happen. Except it’d be cooler if Brouwer was Russian as well. (I know Grabo isn’t either, but to me he’s Russian).

    Except I think I’d rather see Kuznetsov-Backstrom-Ovechkin and Johansson/Fehr-Grabovski-Brouwer. It’d be really tough to break up the third line of 25-16-42 at this point, but I still think that Fehr-Grabo-Brouwer has been our best and most productive 2nd line this season.

    So I makes me think that Grabs is a good fit with bigger, north-south wingers that can forecheck and generate puck possession. If you look at his season Grabovski has been his best when playing with Chimera and Ward on the 3rd line and Fehr and Brouwer on the 2nd line. Grabo started cooling off about a month before the olympic break, but that’s right when Oates decided to put Ovi with Grabovski and split up Nicky & Ovi.

  • dcsportsfan85

    I really like Grabovski and I hope we can re-sign him, but he does seem to want to be in Washington and since he’s getting paid $1.7MM for the next 7 years from Toronto I hope he is willing to give the caps a discount. I’d love to resign him for around $3.5MM-$4.5MM per year.

    There are a few UFA centers out there that would be really incredible for the Caps to pick up.

    Paul Stastny (only 27 years old) he’s an awesome playmaker & very good 2-way center that we could really use. Plus he has a little more size than Grabovski and can play PP & PK. I’d love to sign him to a 5-6 year deal to finally solidify our annual 2C issue.

    Dave Bolland (only 27 years old) he’s a great 2-way center, versatile, and plays an all-around solid game. Can play in any game situation and plays with a great compete level. He’s extremely defensively responsible, which hinders his point totals because he’s needed for his defensive work. He’s like a Jay Beagle but can score and be a playmaker too. He’s probably a good 2nd line center and great 3rd line center. Sounds like someone who might be perfect to center Ovechkin to provide a defensive conscience while providing offense too.
    (in 15GP with Toronto this year he has 6G-4A-10Pts, which is his first year away from Chicago).

    David Legwand (33 yrs old) he’s a big, fast, veteran 2-way center. Works hard in all 3 zones and is very defensively responsible due to his committment to that part of the game. Also, very good at face-offs. Typically a 50 point per year guy. He’s getting older, but is having another solid season. I would absolutely love to see him center the Caps 3rd line. (Chimera-Legwand-Ward). That would be 3 big, fast guys, who are all defensively responsible and capable of contributing offensively. It’d be nice to give Chimer and Wardo a little stability at the 3rd line center position and it’d be a north-south playermaker who’d compliment their games well.