Martin says Bertuzzi might have cracked rib

It hasn't exactly been a smooth start in South Florida for Todd Bertuzzi.

Todd Bertuzzi Bertuzzi

Panthers coach Jacques Martin told local reporters Tuesday that X-rays on Bertuzzi's ribs were inconclusive, but that the winger might have a cracked rib after taking a hard hit in Monday's preseason game against Edmonton.

Bertuzzi will miss the next four preseason games and will head back to South Florida on Wednesday to meet with team doctors and undergo a CT scan.

"After all of that, we'll know exactly the extent of the injury and the time frame on his return," Martin told local reporters Tuesday. "Right now he has some pain, but that's to be expected of a rib injury. I just don't know when he'll be back."

The Panthers acquired Bertuzzi in exchange for goaltender Roberto Luongo as part of a five-player trade with the Vancouver Canucks the day before the NHL draft in June.

Bertuzzi was suspended for the end of the 2003-04 season and playoffs after his on-ice attack left Colorado's Steve Moore with fractured vertebrae in his neck and a concussion that has so far prevented him from returning to the NHL.

Bertuzzi was also given a year's probation and sentenced to 80 hours of community service after pleading guilty in a Vancouver court to criminal assault and receiving a conditional discharge. He still faces a civil suit launched by Moore.

Bertuzzi had 25 goals and 71 points last season, a drop from his best season in 2002-2003, when he scored 46 goals and 51 assists.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.