Programming note: Sharks-Flyers coverage today at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
PHILADELPHIA -- Late in the Sharks’ morning skate, a large figure in a brightly colored orange practice sweater appeared on the ice at the Wells Fargo Center.
No, it wasn’t a confused member of the Flyers, whom the Sharks will play later Thursday night. It was rookie Tomas Hertl, skating for the first time since a devastating knee injury in Los Angeles on Dec. 17.
Hertl stayed on the ice for about 15 minutes.
“This is my first time. Two months, no skating. First time I was a little bit scared. It’s OK,” Hertl said.
The affable rookie was the target of some good-natured ribbing from some of his teammates in the dressing room. Tommy Wingels asked him if “it was dream” being back on the ice, referring to his post-game interview after a four-goal game against the Rangers early in the season. Logan Couture and Joe Thornton also made sure to acknowledge their teammate, while Adam Burish jokingly informed the local media that Hertl would be playing tonight.
As for Hertl, his trademark smile was back, at least for one day. He has no timetable to return, and the team has offered nothing in that regard, either.
“I don’t know. This is start, my first time skating,” Hertl said. “Just easy skate. It’s not much. I don’t know. I must every day keep working, and work out.”
He didn’t seem to harbor too much enmity towards Dustin Brown, either.
“It’s not lucky. It’s hockey, it’s normal,” he said.
Although it’s a positive that Hertl is back on the ice, it’s certainly no guarantee he will play again this season. Raffi Torres skated for the first time after his knee surgery on Oct. 24 – four months before he’ll make his season debut here Thursday night.
Hertl had the MCL and PCL ligaments repaired in his right knee on Dec. 31.