SAN JOSE – Tomas Hertl doesn’t need surgery on the injured right knee that kept him out of the final four games of the Stanley Cup Final. The 22-year-old, wearing a large brace, limped his way into the dressing room on Monday to speak with the media on team getaway day.
Hertl said that he suffered the injury late in Game 2 of the series in Pittsburgh after a run-in with Patric Hornqvist with approximately five minutes left in the third period.
“Hornqvist hit me on my knee. It was right away [I felt] a little bit something maybe happened,” Hertl said. “It wasn’t too bad, I finished the game, but next couple days it wasn’t the best.”
It’s the same knee that required surgery in 2013, when Hertl was the recipient of a knee-on-knee hit from the Kings’ Dustin Brown. He required surgery then to repair the MCL and PCL ligaments in his knee, and returned to the lineup four months later.
Hertl will remain in San Jose in the immediate future to rehab the knee, which he indicated was sprained.
It was tough for Hertl to not take part in the Stanley Cup Final after he played 81 of 82 regular season games and the first 20 in the playoffs. He was attempting to come back, but never felt strong enough.
“It was pretty hard time watching the guys play in the Stanley Cup Final,” he said. “I [was trying] every day, [getting] treatments [to be] ready for [the] next game. Just never [felt] ready, still a little bit weak. You need to be ready against Pittsburgh, because [it’s a] tough team. It was really tough watching.”
Although it’s hard to imagine that the Sharks would have beaten the Penguins even with Hertl in the lineup, coach Pete DeBoer made it clear that it certainly would have helped their chances. After Hertl came out of the lineup, DeBoer referred to him as “arguably our best player” through the first two games, as Hertl scored a power play goal in Game 1 and hit three posts in Game 2, both losses.
“He was a key piece for us. Had he been able to play, we’re a different team with him in the lineup,” DeBoer said. “I guess if you want to term that good news [that he doesn’t need surgery], I guess it’s good news. We could have used him though (laughs).”
Hertl finished the playoffs with 11 points (6g, 5a) in 20 playoff games.
The Sharks have yet to release any injury information regarding the rest of the team, although DeBoer referred to it as a “laundry list,” as is often the case with any NHL team that makes a deep playoff run.