The San Jose Sharks have lost center Tomas Hertl to a torn ACL and MCL marking the final nail in the coffin of a disastrous 2019-20 season.
The Sharks entered the 2019-20 season with plenty of optimism after falling just short of the Stanley Cup Finals last season following a loss in six games to the eventual-champion St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Finals.
Now, the team is likely to miss the playoffs for only the second time in the past 16 seasons and is on pace to finish with their lowest point total since the 2002-03 season — excluding the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
Young players who the Sharks expected to step up and fill larger roles have fallen flat, older veterans on large contracts have underperformed, and the team’s goaltending remains a mess.
But the Sharks haven’t exactly been given the best injury luck either.
Captain and 2020 All-Star Logan Couture suffered a broken ankle a few weeks back and had to be replaced in the lineup and in the All-Star game by the 26-year-old Hertl. It was a major blow to a Sharks team that was looking for any semblance of offensive consistency.
And as expected, San Jose found it difficult to replace their fallen captain. But in his place, Hertl was tasked with filling the role that Couture had held for the majority of the season.
Unfortunately, that role is now left vacant once more.
Hertl will be sidelined for the foreseeable future and there’s no telling when he might return to the ice. The only certainty is that it definitely won’t be this season.
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Now without both Couture and Hertl, the Sharks season might as well be officially over. Entering Wednesday, the Sharks sat nine points back of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference needing a huge late-season run to salvage a playoff spot.
That seems nearly impossible now.
The Sharks are without their two top centers, their two highest point-scoring forwards, and their two 2020 All-Star representatives.
If Couture’s injury wasn’t already the final nail in the coffin, this surely is.
And without a first-round pick for fans to be excited for, it isn’t a great time to be cheering for Team Teal.
The Sharks remain a frustratingly dismal team to watch play. Their two top forwards are sidelined with major injuries. And there won’t even be a high draft pick to compensate them for their struggles.
Barring any late-season magical run, the remaining two months of the season provide very little reason for optimism.
Tomas Hertl’s injury is simply the final dagger.