Senators Doctors Now Confirm Josh Norris' Future

On Thursday, Ottawa Senators head coach DJ Smith said he was "hopeful" that center Josh Smith could get into the team's last preseason game  this weekend, while at the same time still questioning whether the player was "mentally" ready to go. But now team doctors have made it clear: Norris will remain out indefinitely. 

“Right now, the training staff and doctors are telling me that he’s not going to play,” Smith now says. “Again, it’s unfortunate. I know the kid wants to play hockey. As a coaching staff, we’ve had to change some things around, especially our power play. We always have Josh in that one-time spot. Never did we think that possibly we’d start the year without him, and it certainly looks that way.”

Norris is still trying to recover from the shoulder injury and subsequent surgery he had last season, and recently experienced a setback. Sunday morning's practice saw Norris on the ice once again, but the role he was playing certainly indicates the center's status:

Skating with Max Gunette as an extra defence pairing during drills does not sound like he's ready to line up at the pivot for opening night.  

“It’s concerning. When I’m doing my lineup in the middle of June and July, I have him in my lineup,” coach Smith said. “At this point, I am being told he is unable to play. We will continue doing what we’re doing but understand that the player and ourselves all want Josh to play.”

Norris has recorded 93 points in 133 games in his four seasons in Ottawa, but missed 74 games last year, and 16 in the previous campaign. 

If Norris is placed on LTIR,  he'll have to miss at least 10 games/24 days. That, however, would open up cap space needed to finally get 20-goal rookie scorer Shane Pinto under contract. The RFA remains on the sidelines, with the season star just days away. 

Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports