Sakic out at least six weeks; can the Avs handle his absence?

Joe Sakic has two goals in 15 games, but he's also a guy playing 18:06 a night at 39 years old. So it's clear he's got something left in the tank during what many consider will be his last season in the NHL.

The Colorado Avalanche announced today that Sakic will be out at least six weeks for treatment of a herniated disc in his back, and that absence is really his only shot at salvaging the season.

He injured it in the weight room in early November, came back for a game, missed the next five, saw the dentist, came back for another game against the St. Louis Blues before reinjuring his back on his first shift against the Phoenix Coyotes on Nov. 28.

So he'll rehab it and see how it reacts. Avs Coach Tony Granato is optimistic:

"He's a tremendous athlete. I know he'll do everything he can within his power to get back to being 100 percent. If there's an athlete that can come back from something like this in the minimal amount of time it would be Joe."

One of the most durable players in the NHL during his career is now quite fragile. This is the second consecutive season that Sakic will miss a chunk of time to injury, after missing 38 games last season to hernia surgery -- and he wasn't the same player when he returned in 2007-08, despite scoring six goals in 20 games and 10 points in 10 playoff games.

Despite some bumps in the road this season, the Avs are hanging tough in the Western Conference playoff picture. Their offense has started to come around without Sakic in the lineup; can that continue for the next month and a half?

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