Faced with a major personnel shortage, the Nashville Predators added a minor league player Monday.
The team granted Jordin Tootoo an indefinite leave when he voluntarily entered in-patient care under terms of the Joint NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.
“We offer Jordin the full support of his teammates, coaches and the organization,” general manager David Poile said in a statement released by the team. “There is no timetable for his return, and we will have no further comment at this time.”
Tootoo's departure comes shortly after two other forwards, Steve Sullivan and Martin Erat, two of Nashville’s top three scorers, were placed on injured reserve.
Sullivan, with team highs of 10 goals and 20 points, had appeared in 156 straight games before he sat out Sunday’s 2-0 loss at St. Louis with a lower body injury. Initial estimates were that he could miss 10-14 days.
Erat (17 points) played limited minutes last Thursday against Ottawa and sat out the St. Louis contest with an upper body injury. He missed seven games earlier this season with injury issues.
Erat could be back in the lineup before the end of the week. The same is true of David Legwand, who has played just once since mid-November.
Tootoo has four goals and six assists — on pace for his best offensive season — in addition to a team-high 47 penalty minutes.
To help compensate for the losses, Chris Mueller, who had been playing for Milwaukee on an AHL contract, was signed to a new two-way deal that will pay him an NHL salary of $500,000. The 24-year-old was second on the Admirals in both goals (12) and points (20) and was expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday against Dallas (7 p.m., Bridgestone Arena).
Tootoo is not the first Nashville player to be under the care of the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health program.
Tough guy Brantt Mhyres already was in the program when he was signed as a free agent in 2000. Mhyres spent just one season with the organization and appeared in 20 games for the Predators.
Likewise, rugged defenseman Jere Karalahti was a part of the program when he was acquired from Los Angeles in a trade for forward Cliff Ronning. Karalahti had a well-publicized history of drug use when he joined the Predators and appeared in 15 games late in 2001-02.
Following that season, Karalahti made a program-mandated visit to a counseling center and, upon his return to Nashville, engaged in activity, which earned him a six-month suspension and ultimately ended his NHL career. He returned to Finland and joined a professional team there.
In 2008, Karalahti was arrested in Finland and charged for involvement in an amphetamine smuggling operation. He eventually received a 20-month suspended sentence.