There is now some added context to the poor performance of recently-acquired Arizona Coyotes forward Marcus Kruger this season. Coyotes GM John Chayka revealed to TSN that Kruger played the entire 2017-18 campaign with a sports hernia. It had previously been reported that Kruger had hernia surgery last month, but the timeline of the injury had been unclear.
In speaking with TSN about the recent trade of Jordan Martinook and a fourth-round pick for Kruger and a third-rounder, Chayka expressed optimism that Kruger could return to form next season, saying “You take (the injury) into consideration… we think that’ll get the jump back in his skate and it’ll be a real useful and helpful piece to our lineup.” Kruger was not very useful or helpful to the Carolina Hurricanes this year, recording just one goal and five assists in 48 games while averaging the least ice time per game of his career. This has led many to be skeptical of Arizona’s acquisition of the veteran center – a skepticism that won’t go away, even with this news, until Kruger produces some results.
A hernia is a serious injury though and definitely impacted Kruger’s play all year. A hernia occurs when tissue pushes through the muscle wall, usually in the abdominal or groin area. The result is pain and discomfort in the area and a weakening of the muscle. In a physical, lower-body driven sport like hockey, pain and the loss of strength in the core area can absolutely attribute to a loss of ability. Montreal Canadiens prospect Jake Evans was recently diagnosed with a hernia and was given a three-month timeline to recover. Instead of undergoing such extensive rehab in-season, Kruger’s decision to play through it kept him available, but severely limited his ability. Now, he just has to hope that the decision hasn’t permanently damaged that ability.