Chris Wagner underwent surgery on his right wrist to repair a displaced fracture of the ulna suffered in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Bruins forward revealed Monday morning at TD Garden.
Wagner sustained the injury when Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk fired a shot that nailed his forearm late in the third period of Boston’s 2-1 win May 14. With the Hurricanes pushing to notch an equalizer, Wagner was lauded for his sacrifice — one that ultimately proved to be season-ending.
“I tried to come back pretty quick, kind of fought to come back pretty quick,” he said.
Although the initial prognosis ruled Wagner out for the remainder of the playoffs, there was actually a chance he could have returned at the end of the Stanley Cup Final.
After missing nearly a month of games and practices, the 27-year-old Walpole native was considered a possibility heading into Game 7 against St. Louis. Wagner had an unexpectedly swift recovery, surprising even himself. He logged individual ice time, skated with the Black Aces, and fully participated in practice leading up to the team’s final game.
“He was eligible to play, which is pretty remarkable in itself,” general manager Don Sweeney said Monday.
“Great job by the doctors to even get to that point,” added Wagner, with the scar and stitches from the incision still plainly visible. “It was the first bone I’ve ever broken — is there any wood to knock on? — but credit to the docs for how quickly I could come back.”
Coach Bruce Cassidy elected to stick with the same lineup from Game 6, shelving Wagner in favor of wings Karson Kuhlman and Noel Acciari.
Each game Wagner was sidelined — not just Game 7 — was, in his word, “torture.”
“It’s just tough,” he said. “You’re rooting for your guys so much. You’re so invested in the game, and it ends up coming down to that one game and you’re not on the ice for it. That’s probably as hard as it gets in our profession, I would say.”
Sweeney said Wagner will probably take some more time off to ensure that he’s 100 percent. Wagner had a plate and screws inserted as part of the surgery.
Like many of his teammates, Wagner also will spend the offseason — and perhaps beyond — grappling with the Game 7 loss. While he acknowledged the team’s playoff run was an accomplishment, and he’s happy to have shared it with such a close-knit group, he didn’t downplay just how much it stings.
“It will suck for a while,” Wagner said. “You don’t have anything to show for it. You still lost like every other team besides the Blues.”
More medical issues
Adding to the team’s laundry list of injuries, Sweeney said Acciari will receive secondary testing on his heel, and forward David Backes has “something he’s following up on” as well. Sweeney also noted that center Joakim Nordstrom suffered a small fracture in his foot but will not require surgery. The updates come a couple of days after several players revealed the extent to which they were battling injuries during the series. “It’s a testament to the courage of each and every one of them to push themselves,” Sweeney said.
Nicole Yang can be reached at email@example.com.