We should have known something like this was going to happen to James Sheppard, the tough-luck champion of the Minnesota Wild.
Sheppard was riding an ATV near Vail, Colorado late Saturday, when he ran into a tree while avoiding a truck while on a wilderness journey with his left kneecap, fracturing his patella, according to a team statement released late Tuesday afternoon. Already nearing the chopping block with the team for his poor play, since his being chosen as the team's No. 1 draft choice in 2006, the 22-year-old Nova Scotia native now faces the daunting task of rehabbing his knee following the surgery, while his 4th-line center spot is occupied by rookie Casey Wellman and/or vet Kyle Brodziak.
The timeline for Sheppard's rehab is 3-4 months, just in time for the Wild to possibly trade him at the trade deadline near the end of February. The Wild will be in New York at that time on a two-game road trip, at the Islanders on March 1, and at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers on March 2.