Shoulder injury, surgery sideline defenseman

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche defenseman Rob Blake has pulled
out of the World Cup of Hockey tournament scheduled for Aug.
30-Sept. 14 to recover from surgery on his right shoulder.

Blake, 34, was one of three Avalanche players selected to skate
for Team Canada, along with forward Joe Sakic and defenseman Adam Foote.

"I was really looking forward to it because it should be a really good tournament," Blake said Tuesday.

Blake said the shoulder injury was discovered after the playoffs
during what was expected to be a routine arthroscopic procedure to
clean out debris.

"[The shoulder] bothered me for a good portion of the season,
but the extent [of the injury] was a lot worse than we thought,"
Blake said. "I don't expect there will be any long-term effects. I
had the same [operation] 12 years ago, and it was fine."

Rehabilitation from the surgery is expected to take about four
months. Blake said he hopes to begin skating in late August or
early September but won't be able to take any contact for an
undetermined period.

Blake, who recently built a house near Lake Erie in his hometown
of Simcoe, Ontario, met with team doctors Tuesday before leaving
for his home in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

"I'll be doing my therapy in California," he said. "I have to
strengthen [the shoulder]. The full range of motion is starting to
come back, so I should be able to start training pretty good on

The Avalanche will have a new head coach in Joel Quenneville
when they play again -- whenever that might be. The collective
bargaining agreement between the league and NHL Players Association
expires Sept. 15 and a lockout is expected if there is no new deal.

"From what I hear, it doesn't sound good," Blake said. "[The
league] is still stuck on the salary cap. What do we have, about 50
days [before the expiration date]? I'm still optimistic, but
something has to happen on both sides."

There could be an exodus of NHL players to Europe -- including Colorado star Peter Forsberg -- if there is a lockout.

"If it lasts the first few months, I'm not going to do much,"
he said. "If it extends into December and January, I'm going to
have to look somewhere to go play. The guys who are signing now [to
play in Europe] pretty much are free agents. Some guys have signed
contracts with outs; if the NHL starts up, they'll be here."