Hockey players are known to be as tough as they come, but there are still instances that leave you wondering how on Earth they can play through some of the injuries they sustain.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman provided one of those examples during his team’s first-round playoff loss to the Boston Bruins in April. Hyman suffered a torn ACL in Game 4, but gutted through the pain and played through it for the rest of the series.
“I didn’t know I tore my ACL; nobody knew… I thought I hyperextended it,” Hyman said during a radio appearance on Sportsnet 590 Friday. “The first game I tried without a brace and it was fine, but we ended up putting a brace on for Games 5, 6 and 7 and it was just pain tolerance and I thought I could manage the pain and I thought I could skate pretty well.
“We were going to get an MRI done after the series. I didn’t want to get one done during the series, we were so busy we played every other day and I felt fine, I was walking, and when I heard the news it was surprising it was torn, but it is what it is. I got the surgery done literally two days after the season ended, I was on the table and then rehabbing.”
Hyman’s initial timetable gave him a minimum of a six-month recovery period, and he was tight-lipped about how his rehab has progressed. The 27-year-old doesn’t want to publicly state when he hopes to return in order to avoid disappointment should he miss his target.
“I don’t want to give anyone a date and then it not be that date, but I have a date in mind,” Hyman said. “It has to be approved by the medical team first, but it’s always good to have a goal to strive for and it motivates you more and whether that’s attainable or not we’ll see.”
Now more than three months removed from yet another first-round exit at the hands of the Bruins, Hyman shared his feelings about watching a chance at a deep post-season run slip through his club’s fingers.
“It’s frustration for sure,” Hyman said. “They were obviously a good team, they made it all the way to the finals and we were right there with them. We were in control of that series until the end, I guess, so that’s where it was frustrating was letting it slip away.”
Toronto has made a number of off-season changes in an effort to improve the 2019-20 roster, highlighted by the Nazem Kadri-Tyson Barrie trade. General manager Kyle Dubas and the rest of the front office is hoping a more balanced lineup can finally get them over the hump.
Playing out of the powerhouse Atlantic Division, the Leafs’ path to a Stanley Cup is as difficult as it comes, but they’re not getting complacent.
“Our division is tough, everybody knows that,” Hyman said. “We’re going to do our best to get there and nobody’s satisfied with losing in the first round, I can tell you that for sure.
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