The injury Mark Scheifele suffered in Game 1 of Winnipeg’s Qualifying Round series against Calgary is fortunately not as bad as it appeared.
Scheifele left 5:29 into the opening game after a collision with Matthew Tkachuk along the boards. It initially looked like he had suffered a serious knee injury, or even worse, was cut by Tkachuk’s skate. He didn’t reveal the exact nature of the injury, but did say he expects to be 100% very soon.
“Initially I thought I tore my Achilles and I was done for six months,” the Jets forward said on a video call with reporters Tuesday.
Tkachuk called the play an “accident.” Jets head coach Paul Maurice went off on the Flames forward in the postgame, describing the play “a filthy, dirty kick to the back of the leg.”
Scheifele doesn’t believe what Tkachuk did was intentional and the two have spoken since Game 1.
“If someone is on the ice trying to cut someone with their skate, I don’t think Matt was trying to do that,” he said.
In their conversational Tkachuk did admit he was out of control and skating too fast before the collision.
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“The way I look at it, at the last second, I turned up and it was kind of like a knee-on-knee scenario,” Scheifele said. “The one thing I know — and he talked about being out of control and skating too fast. He took ownership of that. I know for me as a hockey player, I work every single day at being in control, at being in control of where I’m at on the ice and the space around me. That’s what I work on every single day.
“It’s one of those things that’s a learning curve for everyone. You try to be in control all the time. I look at it as a knee-on-knee scenario. That’s just the way the game works. It’s a fast-moving game, but I’m thankful it wasn’t as serious as it could have been. I had a lot of bad thoughts go through my mind that I was going to be out for six months and that my career could be over. That was tough on me, and the worst part was the anticipation of getting some answers. All I could do was thank God that I am on the mend, I didn’t need surgery and I’ll be back better than ever.”
Despite playing only three shifts and now spending his off-season recovering, Scheifele isn’t one to hold a grudge.
“The way my parents raised me you forgive everyone, and that’s all you can do. You wish the best on every person,” he said. “Matt’s a great hockey player and has a ton of work ethic. I have no hard feelings. Obviously, I wish it never happened and I played in the rest of that series, but there is nothing you can do about that now.
“All you can do is wish everyone the best and hope that everyone stays safe and healthy. That’s kind of the only thoughts on my mind. In my mind, I’m just trying to get better, trying to get my body back to 100% and that’s all I can worry about.”
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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.