After his aforementioned breakout 29-goal performance in 2017-18, things took a turn for Haula that seemingly doomed his time in Sin City. He was demoted from the top-6 after the Knights acquired Max Pacioretty, and Haula was publicly upset with it. “I think of myself as a top-6 forward and that’s my mindset.” Haula said at the time.
But down to the 3rd line he went. And after a slow start compared to his previous season’s standards, Haula played what turned out to be his final for Vegas on November 6, 2018. He suffered a season-ending knee injury which required surgery after a hit by Canes legend Patrick Marleau, and his long road to recovery left his NHL future much in the air.
After having surgery for a very uncommon hockey injury – which Haula described as a “dislocated patella with chipped bone and cartilage”, Haula embarked on a long road to get back on the ice. He couldn’t walk for ten weeks. When he first got the surgery, the doctors told him he would be lucky to be ready for training camp in 2019-20. Haula accelerated that timetable.
He said he had skated about 30 times before the Knights season ended, and was potentially on track to return in the playoffs if the Knights had made it to the second round. Haula said though, that looking back, it’s probably better he didn’t force his return too early. “That will probably make me feel better and last longer, long-term” he said.