When Matthew Tkachuk collided with Mark Scheifele in the first game of the qualification round, and the big Winnipeg Jets center collapsed to the ice clutching his leg and wailing in pain, everyone watching assumed the worst. It was obvious that Scheifele would have to leave the game as he was helped off the ice by a trainer and Nathan Beaulieu, but the anxious moments that followed surely had more disastrous scenarios playing out in many minds. Would he require major surgery, just a few months before the 2020-21 season was set to begin?
As it turns out, those same thoughts were racing through Scheifele’s mind. He spoke with reporters including Murat Ates of The Athletic and admitted he initially thought he tore his Achilles tendon. That would have meant surgery and a six-month recovery, taking him out of the first portion of the 2020-21—one which will have a condensed schedule. As it turns out, Scheifele was “very, very lucky” and will not require surgery at all. In fact, he told Ates that he’s going to be “back to 100% in the near future.”
While that news may fall on some deaf ears among Jets fans who just watched their team get eliminated before the real playoffs even begin, it’s extremely important for the future. As head coach Paul Maurice hinted at in his post-game tirade about what he called a “filthy, disgusting hit”, an Achilles injury like that doesn’t only come with a long recovery time, it also could potentially jeopardize a career. All hockey fans should be happy that isn’t the case for Scheifele, who has turned into one of the games preeminent two-way centers.
Selected seventh overall in 2011, the 27-year old has broken the point-per-game mark in each of his last four seasons, including 73 in 71 games this year. His postseason stats are just as impressive, making it all the more frustrating for the Jets that he received fewer than three minutes of ice time before being forced from the five-game series. Scheifele will be back next year and so will the Jets, thankful that he isn’t completing a grueling rehab at some point in February.