The Penguins made it official Tuesday night: Defenseman Olli Maatta will miss the remainder of the season because he must undergo a second shoulder operation in the past eight months.
Trib Total Media reported Monday that Maatta would be lost for the season. His surgery will take place Wednesday and is to the same shoulder that was injured last season.
He originally was told by physicians it would be best to have shoulder surgery in December, even though such an operation would eliminate him from playing for the remainder of the season.
Maatta opted to seek a second opinion and received one to his liking.
Another doctor told Maatta he could rehabilitate his shoulder injury in a four-week time period then be able to resume playing.
However, Maatta never found himself close to returning to the lineup.
Maatta skated on his own before Friday’s practice at Southpointe. Penguins coach Mike Johnston said afterward Maatta was “a ways away” from returning to the lineup.
Many in the organization have been skeptical for weeks that Maatta would be able to return this season.
“It’s really disappointing it had to get to this point,” Johnston said following the Penguins’ 7-2 victory over Minnesota.
“We’re looking out for his future.”
Maatta had shoulder surgery in May.
At the time, he was not expected to begin the season with the Penguins, as the time frame given for the rehabilitation period was four to six months. The Penguins were in no rush to push Maatta, one of their prized young defensemen, back into the lineup.
Maatta, however, is known for his work ethic — “The hardest working young defenseman I’ve ever been around,” said former Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik — and worked himself into condition over the summer.
He was back in the lineup when the Penguins opened the season Oct. 9 against Anaheim.
The Penguins did not rule Maatta eligible to play against Anaheim until the day before the opener.
Nothing about Maatta’s performance early in the season suggested he returned too early. He was among the Penguins’ best players in October, according to the team’s coaching staff.
However, Maatta missed a chunk of time in November after it was revealed that he was dealing with a cancerous lump on his neck. The lump was removed, and Maatta’s condition was not life or career threatening.
Maatta finished his abbreviated season with one goal and eight assists in 20 games.
Penguins players, already aware Maatta was set to have surgery, spoke glowingly of him before Tuesday’s game.
“We’ve known what’s been going on for a while now, hoping that maybe he could play,” defenseman Paul Martin said.
According to defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, Maatta will be missed on and off the ice.
“He’s a guy that commands respect,” Bortuzzo said. “Even though he’s only 20, he really is that kind of guy.”