The Golden Knights’ top-line center was playing through some pain to wrap up the season.
Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel recovered from his November artificial disk replacement surgery without issue, but he still didn’t get through the 2021-22 season completely unscathed.
According to Golden Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee on The Bob McCown Podcast, Eichel suffered a broken thumb about a month after making his Golden Knights debut. The injury occurred on March 17 against the Florida Panthers. He blocked a shot with his hand and exited the game with what was considered an “upper-body injury.”
Eichel returned to action two days later and played through the pain for the rest of the season without missing any additional time.
“He broke his thumb in a bad way about three or four weeks into his return. It was not a displace, so he didn’t have to have surgery, but it was a bad fracture, and the guy didn’t miss a game,” said McPhee.
“He toughed it out. We had to numb him up and it wasn’t easy because when that wore off, he was in a lot of pain. But he toughed it out for six weeks with that thumb.”
Despite dealing with the thumb injury, Eichel impressively logged 15 points in the Golden Knights’ final 19 games of the season.
It’s been a rough ride for Eichel the last couple years. From his turbulent departure from the Buffalo Sabres to his neck surgery and his thumb injury, he’s had to overcome a lot of obstacles to get back to playing hockey.
Fortunately, Eichel will have a full offseason to recuperate, and perhaps he’ll return to his All-Star form next season after a long summer of recovery.
“It was a long year. Not season-wise, but just the last calendar year for me with some of the things I went through and dealt with,” said Eichel during his end-of-season press conference.
“You get traded in November, you have surgery right away, you go away, you do your rehab, you come back, it was just everything happened really quickly and it’s been a while since I kind of took a step back and took a deep breath. So, trying to do that now.”