It’s been just over a month since the Tampa Bay Lightning’s best player underwent surgery to repair his right hip. He’s quietly been rehabbing off of the ice without generating much news as is usual for procedures of this type. On Monday, during his game day virtual press conference, Coach Jon Cooper provided an update on the status of the injured winger.
“I spoke to him for quite some time after that Nashville game in the locker room. You can tell it kills these guys not to be out there. It’s baby steps we have to take here. I think his next step eventually is when he’s allowed to be on skates again, but that’s not for some time yet.”
That timeline doesn’t seem unreasonable for a rehab of this kind. For teammate Brayden Point, who had a similar surgery on both of his hips back in 2019, it took about four months before he was back on the ice. Once he was back on the ice, it was a matter of trusting his stride and gaining confidence in the repaired hip.
All players recover at different rates. For instance, the Boston Bruins David Pastrnak also had labral repair on his right hip in the offseason, but returned to play after roughly four months.
For the Lightning, though, there isn’t a pressing need for Kucherov to rush back. With their current salary cap crunch, it behooves them to wait until the regular season, and cap restraints, are over. That extra time may be beneficial for Kucherov’s rehab. Most players who have had the procedure done admit that they didn’t feel 100% until about a year after it was done.
In fact, perhaps the worst thing Kucherov could do is try and rush back to the ice. Not giving his body enough time to properly heal could cause issues down the road and force him to undergo additional surgeries and prolong his wait to return to the ice. As tough as it might be for a competitor like him, it’s best that he takes his time and follow whatever schedule the team has laid out for him.
The good news is that the organization has plenty of experience with this type of injury. In addition to Point, Yanni Gourde and Ben Thomas have also been through the same thing and they both appear to be 100% recovered. Ryan Callahan had labrum surgery as well during his tenure with the Lightning, but his recovery was compromised when he had issues with scar tissue and a stich that failed.
It appears that things are progressing well for Kucherov and there haven’t been any announced setbacks. He’s been working on his rehab at Amalie Arena and in daily contact with the team according to Cooper:
“I see him every day while we’re at home. He doesn’t travel on the road with us. He’s in a much better spot, his body is going to be in a couple of months when he has the ability to get back. He’s been around us. It’s great to see him. He’s in really good spirits, but he’s really itching to get back.