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Bjugstad Injured for Team USA

Nick Bjugstad, and his shoulder, in happier times.
Nick Bjugstad, and his shoulder, in happier times.

Because this is slowly turning into the year of "That would suck, so why wouldn't it happen to Team USA?" Team USA forward Nick Bjugstad skated at practice today in a yellow 'no-contact' jersey, due to a shoulder injury he suffered in Minnesota's final game before the break.

Guy Flaming of The Pipeline Show has been covering Team USA on Twitter (@ThePipelineShow), and talked to Team USA head coach Dean Blais about the injury. Blais said that Bjugstad won't play unless he is 100% healthy, and that he won't play in Team USA's two exhibition games. In Flaming's non-doctorial opinion, he described Bjugstad as "questionable but probable" to play in the tournament.

Blais is in a difficult spot, being both the coach of a team that desperately wants to win a gold medal, and also being the head coach of a team competing against Bjugstad's Minnesota team for a WCHA title. It doesn't take long to draw the comparison to the 2005 World Juniors, when Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin played Minnesota's Nate Hagemo despite a shoulder injury. Hagemo took another hit on the shoulder in the tournament, which essentially ended his promising hockey career--and sent him down a pretty nasty path of self-destruction. It definitely puts the coach of the team in a very difficult position.

The good news is that Bjugstad seems to have hurt the shoulder on December 10th, so he's had already had nine days of recovery time. The bad news is that it must be pretty serious if it has already been that long and hasn't healed. The first official games for the US are December 26th against Denmark, December 28th against Finland, and December 30th against the Czech Republic, before finishing out the preliminary round against Canada on New Year's Eve.