Stone feels good and targets Golden Knights opener

HENDERSON, Nevada- Mark Stone expects to be ready in time to play in the Vegas Golden Knights’ home opener against the Los Angeles Kings on October 11 after undergoing back surgery on May 19.

« I feel very positive, » Stone said Thursday as part of the NHL Player Media Tour at Lifeguard Arena. “Do I know if I am 100 percent recovered? No I do not know. But I feel very good. But I won’t know where I am until I put my back to the test in training camp.

“I’ve been climbing a mountain all summer, and I feel like I’m very close to the top. »

The 30-year-old striker was limited to 37 games last season. He missed 12 games between Oct. 15 and Nov. 15 after being injured against the Kings on Oct. 14, then missed 26 games between Feb. 9 and April 9 due to an injury suffered on Feb. 8 against the Oilers. ‘Edmonton.

Stone returned to action in the final stretch of the season as the team battled for a playoff berth, but was limited to two points (one goal, one assist) in the final nine games of the season . Vegas, however, missed the playoffs for the first time since joining the NHL as an expansion team in 2017-18, finishing three points behind the Nashville Predators and second-fourth aces in the Conference Conference. the West.

Stone finished the season with 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists).

« After a game in Los Angeles last year, the second of the season, I couldn’t move, » Stone said. I experienced something similar before Christmas, I couldn’t move either. The last game I played against Edmonton, I could barely move when I got back on the bus. After this game, I knew I couldn’t go on like this. »

Stone underwent a lumbar discectomy to fix a disc in his lower back after enduring nerve-related pain for the first time in his career.

« These three experiences weren’t pleasant at all, » Stone said. Not being able to walk for a whole week after an injury is definitely something that sticks in your mind. I think I knew I was at a point where the best decision to make was to have an operation, to fix all of this. So it’s a relief to know that it’s settled, and that I should be able to continue my career the same way I was leading it before last season. »

While Stone is confident he’ll be ready in time to start the season, he still doesn’t know if he’ll be able to fully participate in training camp. Stone said he needs to speak with his surgeon next week to get the all clear.

 » Slow. Long. Boring, I imagine,” Stone replied when asked to describe his rehab process. “I’m getting to the stage where I’m starting to feel like myself again. It makes me want to do as much as possible to finally be fully healthy. It’s been a long process, no doubt, but I’m definitely on my way to feeling like I used to, and I’m very excited about it. »

Stone, who is the captain of the Golden Knights, has been skating with his teammates for the past two or three weeks. He says he feels physically stronger every day, but he still has work to do on the mental side of his rehabilitation.

« The mental block is by far the most difficult hurdle to overcome, » admitted Stone. Especially now, I constantly wonder if I feel good or if I feel bad after every move. However, I believe that this will be my last obstacle. I am convinced that I am healthy, but there are days when there is doubt in my mind, and that prevents me from thinking about my back. I try to remove this doubt, because I know that I am healthy. »

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