Thursday’s rival matchup against the Los Angeles Kings began with a sobering moment for the San Jose Sharks late in the first quarter during a scoreless game. Young star center Tomas Hertl suffered a knee injury after a knee-to-knee collision with Kings winger Dustin Brown.
The two were casually crossing each others paths on the ice when Brown appeared to stick his knee out and make contact with Hertl’s. Hertl immediately hit the ice and was helped to the locker room. Results are not yet confirmed, but MCL or ACL injuries are feared. Barring a miracle, Hertl should be out for some time.
Brown was given a 10-minute game misconduct, but surely hasn’t seen the last of his punishment for the hit. He’ll definitely see a substantial fine, possibly a suspension. Brown likely acted with intention, at least that is what video replay seems to indicate. Their two knees did not crash into each other by accident.
San Jose has played just 13 games since getting forward Brent Burns back from an injury that forced him to miss 13 of his own. Once again they will have to play without a key piece offensively. The Sharks went 6-3-4 during Burns’ absence in November, which isn’t terrible but the Sharks offense will have to come through even tougher with Hertl out of the lineup.
Hertl is tied for the team lead with Patrick Marleau at 15 goals on the season. His absence from the lineup, especially for a lengthy period of time will be a trying stretch for this San Jose team. Every one of the Sharks’ offensive stars — Logan Couture, Joe Thorton, Joe Pavelski, Burns and Marleau included — will need to step up until Hertl can return to the ice.