John Tavares returning to Toronto after injury at hockey worlds

John Tavares left the world championships with an injury on Thursday.

The Canadian centre hurt his oblique preparing for the IIHF tournament and is returning to Toronto for further evaluation, the Maple Leafs announced.

Tavares joined Canada’s roster for the tournament in Slovakia after the Leafs lost to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Mark Stone and Philadelphia Flyers centre Sean Couturier will be counted on to pick up the slack for Team Canada, which opens play Friday against Finland at 10:15 a.m. ET.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the 28-year-old centre suffered the injury.

Given that oblique injuries usually require at least a few weeks of recovery time, Tavares is likely a longshot to return to Slovakia for the May 10-26 tournament.

Tavares had a career-high 47 goals with 41 assists in 82 games with the Maple Leafs in the regular season, and added two goals and three assists in seven playoff games.

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