Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green will miss the start of the season after blood work indicated he has a virus that appears to be attacking his liver.
The blood work was ordered because Green was having fatigue. His absence is another blow to a team that saw captain Henrik Zetterberg retire because of back woes.
General manager Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press on Friday that Green “hasn’t had a lot of energy. He’s trying to see a doctor today or Monday.”
Early diagnosis is that the virus is attacking Green's liver, but “we don’t really know the extent of exactly what he has got,” Holland said. “But we are shutting him down pending what information we get from a specialist.”
Green, who turns 33 next month, had agreed to a two-year, $10.75 million contract to stay with the Red Wings a day before the start of free agency.
He had neck surgery in late March and was cleared for full contact right before training camp opened. He was supposed to play late in the preseason, but that appears unlikely now.
The Red Wings open the season on Oct. 4, less than two weeks away.
His absence leaves the Red Wings with five NHL regulars on the blue line — Trevor Daley, Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Nick Jensen.
Green, one of the team's few sources of offense from the back end, quarterbacks the first power-play unit. He led Detroit defensemen with 33 points last season, even though he was limited to 66 games by injury.
His loss means the Red Wings are likely to keep two defense prospects on their roster.
Dennis Cholowski, a first-round pick in 2016, could stick around because of his poise and offensive capabilities. He’s a smooth, smart skater.
Libor Sulak is another leading candidate to make the team. His skating is NHL-caliber, and he had played against high-end talent at the World Championships.
Filip Hronek and Joe Hicketts round out the top prospects on defense.
“Now we have five D, and we are probably going to start with seven,” Holland said. “Now, how long is Mike Green out? Certainly it appears he is going to be out for a little period of time. So probably we are going to start with two of these defense prospects – either Sulak or Hicketts or Cholowski or Hronek.”
Follow Helene St. James on Twitter @helenestjames.
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