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Senators surprised by Norris' prolonged absence: 'Never seen this coming'

Andre Ringuette / National Hockey League / Getty

Ottawa Senators head coach D.J. Smith admitted the team is surprised by Josh Norris' continued absence.

"Everyone involved never seen this coming," Smith said Saturday, according to The Athletic's Ian Mendes. "We all thought Josh would go through a little bit of practice, take a few bumps, and get in an exhibition game, and away we'd go. And that just didn't happen."

Norris was limited to just eight games last season due to a shoulder injury. He returned to the Senators' lineup in January but only appeared in three contests before being shut down for the remainder of the campaign to undergo surgery.

"With injuries, things happen sometimes where maybe it didn't rehab quite the way they expected," Smith said. "Everyone involved is not willing to let him go out there and play."

Norris was anticipated to play in the preseason but has yet to receive clearance from the medical staff.

"We thought he was going to play the game at home against Winnipeg (on Sept. 29), and he wasn't cleared or allowed to play," Smith said. "Then, we thought he would play against Pittsburgh (on Oct. 2). Same thing. At this point, I'm just told he's unable to play.

"Never did we think that possibly we'd start the year without him, and it certainly looks that way."

Smith didn't give a timeline for Norris' return.

In addition to Norris' absence, Ottawa has yet to sign forward Shane Pinto to a new contract. The 22-year-old is the last remaining unsigned restricted free agent.

The Senators play their final preseason game on Saturday before commencing the regular season on Wednesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

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