It wasn’t the way anybody had anticipated the season playing out.
Carolina Hurricanes’ star forward Andrei Svechnikov was on pace for a career season, building on the big year he had had in the prior season, but with one subtle play, his season was ended in an instant and he’s been forced to watch his team from afar while rehabbing a torn ACL.
“It’s tough,” Svechnikov said in a media appearance during Game 1 of the first round. “In the season, it was kind of okay, but right now, once I sit down and I see this atmosphere and what we’re playing for and everything comes together, it’s kind of tough to watch and not play side by side with my boys.”
The moment that Svechnikov tore the ACL was almost inconspicuous.
The Hurricanes were playing the Vegas Golden Knights and late in the second period, Svechnikov finished Alex Martinez along the boards in the offensive zone as the defenseman cleared the puck around the boards. However, as the two disengaged, Svechnikov lumbered to the bench in some apparent discomfort.
He stretched and flexed his leg on the bench, went back to the room, came back out, tried to skate it off during a TV timeout, went back to the locker room, but then came back and finished the third period.
However, that was the last time he’d be on the ice for the Hurricanes this season.
Three days later, it was reported that he had torn his ACL and he would be having surgery. While it seems like a freak injury, Svechnikov hinted that it might have just been a matter of time.
“Nothing serious happened to be honest. I was pretty much just skating and my knee went inside a bit and that’s how it got injured. In 2020, during the bubble, I sprained my ankle and I tore my MCL, so I had a little bit of a tear on the ACL and so it was about the time.”
According to Svechnikov, the surgery went well and doctor’s gave him a time table of six to nine months for recovery. With next year’s training camp around seven months away, only time will tell if Svechnikov will be ready on Day 1, but he’s committed to making it back faster than ever, stating that he’ll do, “everything for that.”
The Canes’ star forward appeared in high spirits during his availability despite the circumstances.
One of the reasons for that is perhaps the support system around Svechnikov, and especially his brother, Evgeny, who has been through the exact same injury as well.
“All my family has been huge. My parents, my brother, especially him as he’s had the same ACL surgery. So he’s been through that and he’s given me really good advice on what I’ve got to do.”
But perhaps another aspect that has helped the young phenom is the fan support.
“I’ve been feeling the love for the last four weeks. It’s been amazing. I’ve been laying down in my living room and I see just people come to my house and the neighbors are bringing me cookies. This is a special place to be honest. I love everything about this place.”
And when Svechnikov appeared on club level at PNC Arena Monday night for Game 1, to crank the Storm Siren, the place exploded. The love that the fanbase has for their second overall pick is enormous and the fans can’t wait till he’s back on the ice.
There was no way we were losing with Svech on the Siren pic.twitter.com/jESB63GOce— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) April 18, 2023
But according to Svechnikov, the time away from the ice hasn’t been a total wash either. He’s been able to watch the games from above and take the time to absorb the information from a bird’s eye vantage point.
“I’ve just been watching games because I haven’t had the chance to watch them from upstairs so now I’ve got the chance and I’ve learned things for sure.”
Finally, when asked who he thinks will be the biggest performer for the Hurricanes this postseason, Svechnikov stayed that unwavering source of support for his teammates.
“I can’t pick only one to be honest, because they’re all going to be playing good.”
And with a 2-0 series lead, it seems that Svechnikov’s sentiments are ringing true.