Hertl collides with Brown, leaves early with right leg injury
Programming note: Kings-Sharks coverage begins Monday at 7 p.m.on the NBC Sports Network
SAN JOSE – Kings captain Dustin Brown expressed disappointment on Monday that Tomas Hertl could be out for the rest of the season, after Brown’s knee-on-knee hit during a game at Staples Center on Dec. 19.
“You never want to see anybody get hurt. He was pretty exciting coming into the league. We need more players like him that are willing to go through the legs, and go [top] shelf,” Brown said, mentioning Hertl’s highlight-reel goal against the New York Rangers in October. “That’s good for our game. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt. Like I said, it’s one of those things that kind of happens in the game of hockey.
[RELATED: Sharks' Hertl has successful knee surgery]
“There was a lot of excitement. Everyone remembers that one game. It wasn’t just up here (in San Jose), we had guys in our room talking about how good it was. It’s not too often you see a young guy like that come in and do the things he was able to do. Hopefully, he can get healthy.”
Brown and the Kings organization were criticized by Sharks general manager Doug Wilson for failing to immediately express remorse over the 20-year-old Calder Trophy candidate’s injury. Hertl underwent major surgery on Dec. 31 to repair the MCL and PCL ligaments in his right knee. At the time, Hertl was leading the league in rookie scoring with 15 goals and 25 points.
“My response to the lack of, maybe, concern towards our player is disappointing,” Wilson said, four days after the injury occurred.
Brown was asked if that was an unfair critique.
“There’s two sides to every story. I mean, they’re going to be upset. If that was reversed, the Kings would be upset. I don’t know how they would have handled it. We’ve had guys get hurt in similar situations, whether it’s a concussion where there’s just a random collision. We’ve had guys miss some time this year from just a random collision, with concussions.
“I think everyone needs to realize the game is going pretty quickly. There’s going to be collisions that happen. When someone gets hurt, it gets magnified, I think, but if he’s fine, are we even talking about this?
“All I can say is, I made the effort to get out of the way. I think that was pretty evident on the video. My intention was to hit him at first, and then [I] realized I wasn’t going to be able to get there in time. He had the puck on his stick for a split second, then I tried to get out of the way. Like I said, stuff happens during the course of a game.
“Whenever a player gets hurt I think it ruffles some feathers, and that’s fine. That’s just the nature of the beast, probably more so with the Sharks, because we have the [playoff history].”
Whether the Sharks look for retaliation against Brown will be determined on Monday night at SAP Center, the first time the teams have met since the incident. The Sharks, winners of six straight, have a 10-point lead on the Kings, who have lost their last five (0-4-1). The home team has won 22 of the last 23 games, including the postseason.
The Kings beat the Sharks in seven games in the second round of the 2013 playoffs, with the home team winning each time.
“I’m just preparing to play. At the end of the day, they’re 10 points up on us,” Brown said.
“They can open the gap on us even more, and make it tough for us. Talk about home ice and how important it is, last year it was really important. … We can’t let them get too far ahead. That’s my focus, and my team’s focus.”