In this edition of Vegas Golden Knights News & Rumors, Jack Eichel has made it very clear how excited he is to join the team, and will have his neck procedure done on Friday. In other news, Mark Stone was back skating on Tuesday for the first time since being injured earlier this season. Meanwhile, goaltender Robin Lehner, who has been calling for change in the NHL for some time, once again spoke about how hockey culture needs to change after Kyle Beach came forward with his very tragic story.
Eichel to Undergo Surgery on Friday
As it is well known around the hockey community, Eichel has been unable to play this season due to a neck injury. Unfortunately, he was not able to get the surgery he needed done to fix the issue as he and Sabres management disagreed on the operation he should get. The Golden Knights management, however, is supporting him in his decision, and as a result he will undergo an artificial disk replacement procedure on Friday.
There is some risk involved here, as no other NHL player has undergone this surgery before. However, Eichel seems very confident that everything will go as planned, and that when he returns, he will be even better than before.
“I think I’ve got a lot more,” Eichel said to reporters on Monday. “I think I’m only scratching the surface. Yeah, I think the season a couple years ago, I think that that was sort of the start of the way that I want to make an impact. Coming in here there’s some really good hockey players, and I think this kind of environment, the culture here, is only going to push me to become better.
“I think there’s a lot more in me, and this is about as motivated as I’ve been. I think there’s a lot of people out there that may be doubting me or don’t think I’m going to get back to the form I was in, so look forward to putting all the doubts to rest and getting back to the level that I believe I can play.”
Hearing his hunger to get even better has to excite Golden Knights fans, as prior to his injury he was already an elite player in the game. Unfortunately, it will be a while before we see him back on the ice, as he is expected to miss a minimum of three weeks after his neck operation.
Stone Back on the Ice
The Golden Knights have had a ton of injuries early on in this 2021-22 season. One of those was to Stone, who was forced to leave during a game versus the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 14 with an undisclosed injury. Thankfully, he seems to be progressing in his recovery, as he was back on the ice Tuesday for the first time since being hurt. (from ‘Ben Gotz: Mark Stone skates with Golden Knights for 1st time since injury’ , Las Vegas Review Journal, 10/09/2021).
According to head coach Peter DeBoer, Stone “is not close to playing yet, but it’s a great first step.” His team has struggled to get in a rhythm without him, as through 13 games they sit sixth in the Pacific Division with a 7-6-0 record.
Lehner Calls for Change
Roughly two weeks ago, the hockey community was rocked when Kyle Beach revealed himself as the former Chicago Blackhawk who was sexually assaulted by the former team’s video coach Brad Aldrich. This story cast a very negative spotlight on the hockey world, and many called for change. One of those people calling for change was none other than the Golden Knights goaltender in Lehner.
“People need to be held accountable. That’s part of healing, getting justice,” Lehner told reporters. “That’s all we want. Whatever the process is, I hope we do the right thing. It’s not just in hockey or all sports, it’s society in general. It’s very difficult for anyone in that position with sexual assault to come out, it’s hard to talk about, especially if you feel like people won’t believe you.
“We need to be more open, more supportive.”
Lehner refused to blame anyone in particular in regards to the bad side of hockey culture, but instead says he hopes the players themselves can fight to make things better.
“It’s extremely tough for me to do it, but sometimes my principles and how I feel take over,” Lehner explained. “At the end of the day, I just want more players, (with) whatever it is, to take a stand. Because we as players, we can bring change as much as anywhere else. But again, it’s difficult for me. I wish more people would step up in the fight because hopefully it’s for our kids, for my kids and a lot of players’ kids. We want them to succeed and play in this league and we want hockey and the NHL to be as good as possible.”
Good on Lehner, who continues to be a leading voice for the NHLPA regarding many issues in today’s game. Hopefully going forward we see some more players step up in a similar way to try and help further improve hockey culture.
Up Next for the Golden Knights
The Golden Knights were able to pick up a win in their first game of the week on Tuesday night against the Seattle Kraken, and will look to keep it going on Thursday when they take on the Minnesota Wild. They will then face off against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday for their final game this week.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.