Positioning

Hurricanes interview-day takeaways: Injuries revealed, and what they mean going forward – The Athletic

future-dyanmics

After much speculation of what ended Hurricanes goalie Freddie Andersen’s season April 16, he revealed Wednesday it was a torn MCL.
“It’s an injury that’s really tough on goalies,” he said. “Given the position we’re in, it’s frustrating.”
The position, of course, is a second-round exit after the best regular season in franchise history. Could Andersen have continued his fantastic work from the regular season and pushed the Canes into the third round? And beyond?
It’s a pointless question, especially because backup Antti Raanta did great in replacing Andersen, for the most part.
But the question stings all the same, and for Andersen, it has to be all the more frustrating because he said he was very close to returning. He rejoined full-team practices during Round 2.
“I’ve never had this exact injury before,” Andersen said. “Playoff time, you hope to be back as soon as possible. I was trying to do what I could.”
Some critics, meanwhile, were questioning the extent of Andersen’s injury during the playoffs, and whether he could have played through it, implying a mental block and pointing to a history of missing time in the postseason with the Maple Leafs and Ducks.
The Athletic spoke to a handful of goalies about the idea that Andersen could have played through an MCL tear, and they shuddered at the thought.
“I just don’t get this spin on it,” said former Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack, who retired after 144 NHL games because of his own injury issues. “He’s had a great season on a great team. Why wouldn’t he want to dress in the playoffs? Knee injuries are so hard to play through because you put so much pressure on them to push laterally and drop into butterfly. I’ve just had patellar tendinitis before, and that was so hard playing through. That’s easy compared to MCL.”
“You straight up can’t play through that,” said a current NHL goalie, who didn’t want to be identified because he’s looking for a new contract this offseason. “If the strength and conditioning programs (around the league) were better, goalies wouldn’t get hurt as badly or as often. That’s just the reality of everything, sadly.”
Andersen’s agent, Claude Lemieux, had a similar sentiment.
“We can’t control what people think or say, but Freddie did not play for good reason,” he told The Athletic. “He suffered a serious knee injury and unfortunately had to miss the playoffs. I’m sure you have noticed many goalies getting injured, maybe more than ever. It’s not only in Carolina; it’s happening with many teams. Freddie will be ready for next season and next year’s playoffs.”
Amid all the talk of Andersen and injuries, Raanta revealed Thursday that he strained his MCL during Game 7 against the Rangers.
“Pretty much the same thing as Freddie but a little bit worse,” he said. “When my right leg came on the ice, you could feel something pop. It was very painful. Chris Kreider came up to me after the game and was like, ‘Don’t tell me I hurt you,’ but it was just a play where I kind of jumped and the skate got in there (and) the knee rolled over.”
Despite both goalies suffering MCL injuries, Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said Thursday they’re confident with the tandem going into next season.
“I think they proved all year: Freddie was outstanding until he got injured, then Raanta was very good during the year,” Waddell said. “Then he got called upon in the playoffs — most games he has ever started in a row. He gave us a chance every night, for the most part, to win. I think we are very happy with the tandem.”
As Lemieux said, Andersen should be ready to go next year, and Raanta’s timeline is six to eight weeks. But knee injuries are tough on goalies, and it’ll be important to see how each bounces back at the beginning of next season.
Canes rookie forward Seth Jarvis, 20, confirmed he suffered a concussion in Game 7 on an open-ice hit from Jacob Trouba. This was after a puck to the groin area and another puck to the chiclets during the playoffs.
Jarvis has such a bright future, and it was really hard to listen to him describe what his experience has been like these past few days.
“I’m doing a lot better today than I have been. My headache has basically gone away today,” he said Thursday. “I still feel like I am in a fog, pretty slow. Other than the concussion, the other two aren’t that serious of injuries.”
Other than the concussion, the other two aren’t that serious. That’s hard to hear from a 20-year-old or anyone.
His memory of suffering the concussion is blurry.
“I know we had a power play in the first period,” he said. “After that, I don’t remember anything until — I can remember parts of watching it in Bill (Burniston’s) office in the third period. I remember KK (Jesperi Kotkaniemi) driving me home a bit. Then I don’t remember anything until halfway through the next day.
“It’s a little bit scary when you don’t remember anything.”
Jarvis laughed it off, but hearing this made me nauseous. The hit Trouba delivered was clean by the textbook, and Jarvis is a shorter guy, but I’ve heard there’s been discussion around the league about discouraging players from making open ice hits like these. I’m not really sure how I feel about it, but I do wonder if it’s time to look into the “textbook” and protect players at open ice.
“Tough question,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “There’s so much that goes into all that. I think they’ve done what they can on that. They certainly look at everything, which is the key. It’s just, it’s part of the game, unfortunately. You’re going to get hit sometimes. I don’t know how you do it any differently. Unless you take hitting right out of the game — then what are we playing?”
It’s a tough question, but listening to a 20-year-old, wide-eyed kid brush off a concussion blackout is even harder.
The Canes didn’t play Ethan Bear in the playoffs, and at times it made you wonder why the Canes traded for him in the first place. But his play considerably dropped off after he contracted COVID-19, and he addressed that Thursday.
“It was tough once COVID happened,” he said. “There was so much that went down, and I couldn’t get my rhythm back after that. It was just so tough. You’re off for two weeks, then you’re thrown back in and you can’t really get back to where you were. All the work you put in, in the summertime just goes away. It was tough. But I learned a lot this year. I just feel like I never got to get my game under me before playoffs, then to not play a playoff game was pretty tough.”
Was he feeling any lingering COVID-19 symptoms during that time?
“I don’t know, to be honest, I have never been through something like that,” Bear told me. “For a long time, it felt like — it was tough, like you can’t breathe, but you don’t know if you’re out of shape. You just can’t push yourself to that point. That was the most challenging part.”
I wonder how many athletes are dealing with this right now pic.twitter.com/FR44lEqymP
— Sara Civ (@SaraCivian) June 2, 2022

In positive and sort of unexpected news, Waddell said Thursday that defenseman Jake Gardiner has been fully cleared to return following surgery on his back and hips.
“Yesterday we got medical records, and he’s been fully cleared,” Waddell said. “I haven’t talked to him yet, but our trainers talked to him yesterday. As of today, he’s made a full recovery and will be able to continue to play hockey.”
Gardiner missed the 2021-22 season as a result of the surgeries and was placed on long-term injured reserve. The 31-year-old played in 26 games in 2020-21 and recorded eight assists.
He has one year remaining on his four-year contract, which carries an average annual value of $4.05 million.
Maybe the Canes take him and he has a wonderful comeback season on their blue line. Or maybe he can serve as a salary-dump trade asset and have a new beginning elsewhere.
(Top photo of Freddie Andersen: Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

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