Unfortunately, the San Jose Sharks and Tomas Hertl know Luke Kunin’s pain.
Kunin, too, is all too familiar with it.
The Sharks announced today that Kunin, out since Dec. 13, is done for season after undergoing successful surgery on a right ACL tear. The recovery process is six-to-eight months.
This is Kunin’s second go-around with ACL tear surgery. In Mar. 2018, Kunin suffered a tear to his left ACL, ending his 2017-18 campaign prematurely.
Kunin was hurt on his first shift against the Arizona Coyotes in the Sharks’ 3-2 win, trying to hit defenseman Patrick Nemeth. The play happened off-camera, but David Quinn filled in the details.
“The guy reverse hit him, so it caught him off guard a little bit, then he slipped on the boards. We thought it happened during the reverse hit, where his knee buckled a little bit,” the San Jose Sharks head coach shared. “It doesn’t take much. Watching the football game last week, Kyler Murray on the open field goes down.”
Per NBC Sharks, here’s a never-before-seen view of the play that led to the injury.
It’s a big loss for the Sharks, who acquired Kunin from the Nashville Predators for John Leonard and a 2023 third-round pick during the most recent NHL Draft. GM Mike Grier promptly signed the RFA to a two-year, $5.5 million dollar contract, trumpeting his competitiveness and two-way game.
The winger has provided secondary scoring with five goals and eight assists through 31 appearances and has been one of the most-used penalty killers on the league’s second-best PK unit.
“He’s a tough guy to replace,” Quinn said. “Not only on the ice, but off the ice. He’s everything you want from an organizational standpoint.”
Hertl, of course, has been in Kunin’s place. The San Jose Sharks top center has suffered multiple long-term knee injuries in his career, most recently ACL and MCL tears in his left knee that ended his 2019-20 campaign early.
“It’s always tough especially when guys go on a road trip, you’re kind of alone here, maybe with a couple of trainers,” Hertl said, sharing that he’s talked to Kunin about his recent setback. “If [you’ve never been] injured, they don’t even know what it’s like, how hard it is to be everyday working out all day. You can’t play, not just working out, but other stuff around it. It’s a long process to heal. I really feel bad for him, but he will be back and even stronger.”
To that end, Quinn offered one ray of light in a tough day for the Sharks and Kunin.
“The good news is, it’s as good of a situation as you can be with that injury,” Quinn offered. “There was no other damage. It was pretty simple as it can be with that injury.”
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