LAS VEGAS ( Associated Press) — Jack Eichel skated with the Vegas Golden Knights for the first time since it was eventually acquired from Buffalo and in November became the first NHL player to undergo prosthetic disc replacement surgery on his neck.
“A bit of an emotional moment for me,” Eichel said Tuesday after her Vegas morning skate. “Just one more step in the process. It was like a kid at Christmas going out there with people.”
Eichel said it didn’t matter that while his new teammates were preparing for their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, they wore a non-contact jersey while skating around the team’s practice facility. He felt that he was part of the hockey team again.
Before rejoining the Golden Knights on Tuesday, Eichel, who rehabbed in Charlotte, North Carolina, said, “Whatever I’ve been through, it seems like things are going back to normal for me, which is what I’ve always been through. I want.” “You really feel like you’re part of the group.”
This is an important part of his process, both mentally and physically, as he can learn from a group that has long been known for their locker rooms.
Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said it would take a while – “a while” – before the 25-year-old All-Star center would be able to tolerate contact. Eichel said he doesn’t have a target date.
“I think it looks at how you feel, see how you progress, how confident and comfortable you are,” Eichel said. “I think I’ll know physically, mentally, emotionally when I’m ready to go. The team and organization have been so supportive of when I need to come back or when they expect me to come back. If so, don’t put up a hard date.
“Just very little pressure. You have different milestones that you want to accomplish during this process.”
Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said after the trade she expects the recovery process to last three to five months. He had surgery on November 12.
Eichel wasn’t the only one talking about his appearance at the City National Arena, as team captain Mark Stone said it was “exciting to add a top-10 player in the league to our lineup at some point.”
“Obviously, we’re not sure when that will happen,” Stone said. “We are excited to have him around the team. It will be exciting to see his skills here for the next little practice and to get ready for his first game.”
Vegas, the fifth-highest scoring team in the league with 3.47 goals per game, is ranked first in the Pacific Division, two points ahead of Anaheim with 47 goals.
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