Last night was quite a victory for the Carolina Hurricanes at the hand of a very good Minnesota team. As the final minutes ticked down on what would be a convincing 5-2 victory, tragedy struck.
Max Pacioretty was skating at the goal line and suddenly fell to the ice in pain.
After months and months of rehabilitation to return to play after tearing his Achilles, Pacioretty finally came back and was about to finish his fifth game of the season.
The intense work that is done by an athlete to return from an injury, not to mention surgery, takes special dedication and mental toughness.
Unfortunately, many athletes injure another part of the body while focusing so much on the injured area. Some players re-injure the original issue.
Sadly, it appeared that Pacioretty was favoring his surgically repaired Achilles when being helped off the ice and to the trainer’s room.
Obviously, this is all speculation, but you could see it on the faces of the players after Pacioretty fell to the ice. Rod Brind’Amour could not hold back his disappointment on the bench as he spoke to other players.
The clock ran down and the victory was sealed but this was a different Storm Surge.
The players did their best to celebrate the victory with the fans, but the clear focus was on their teammate and his health.
The 34-year-old veteran had just been traded to Raleigh this summer in hopes of catapulting the Canes to a Stanley Cup.
Almost instantly, Pacioretty was injured and could not start the season.
It is not only difficult to come back to your teammates after a serious injury, but it is also even harder to make your way back to a new group of teammates and community.
Finally, the Connecticut native showed off the new threads and was able to score 3 goals in his first 5 games in Carolina.
Known to be a tremendous person on and off the ice, Pacioretty has lived up to his reputation despite his lack of gameplay.
Production is the be-all and end-all with professional athletes, but he fit right in with the team and was another leader. On the ice, Pacioretty brought a shoot-first mentality that was desperately needed.
The younger players learned from him in this short span of time and will continue to whether Pacioretty can return to the ice this year or not.
I for one hope that it looked worse than it ultimately is but the Canes placing him in the IR immediately further supports our fears.
With the absence of Pacioretty, the team will rally as they have all season. Teuvo Teravainen happened to have a great game, topped with a snipe of a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury.
This will be an opportunity for someone like Teravainen, who was knocked down to the fourth line recently.
Don Waddell will have external options and cap space if Pacioretty returns to the LTIR.