Heading into the last regular season series of the season at league leading Minnesota, the Badgers were hoping to see the return of junior center Derek Lee to the Wisconsin lineup. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that it will happen.
During his weekly media availability Monday, Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves sounded positive in talking about the prospects of Lee suiting up for the Badgers this weekend. However a tweet Wednesday night from Andy Baggot notes that the British Columbia native will not make the trip with the team to Minneapolis.
Lee has missed the seven games for the Badgers due to a concussion suffered in North Dakota. This weekends missed games will mark the 19th and 20th games Lee has missed this season.
Earlier this season Lee sat for 11 games when a hand laceration during a game vs Nebraska-Omaha forced him into surgery. Lee returned to the lineup for seven games after the hand injury beofore being knocked out with the concussion.
Despite playing just 14 games for the Badgers this season, Lee is still 8th on the club in scoring. Lee's 0.79 points per game is good for fourth on the club.
Many have asked about the prospects of a medical red-shirt for Derek Lee. Unfortunately, that's not going to be in the cards. NCAA rules stipulate that in order to use that, the athlete can compete in no more than 30% of their teams contests.
Since Lee has played in 14 games, the Badgers would have to play 3 games in the first round of the WCHA tournament, all three games in the WCHA Final Five, and make it to the Frozen Four for Lee to have participated in less than 30% of the teams games.
I believe the coaching, and medical staffs at Wisconsin are being very careful with Derek. At this point with the Badgers having no legitimate chance at playing for a national championship this season, it's best to make 100% sure that Lee is fully cleared of all concussion symptoms before returning to the ice.
However, his return will be a nice added bonus--whenever that happens to come.
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