Karl Alzner underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a sports hernia that he sustained in the Washington Capitals’ playoff run in April.
Alzner was injured in Game 3 of the Captials’ first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia Flyers, then aggravated the injury in Game 6 of the second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins — an eventual season-ending 4-3 overtime loss.
He played only 5:16 in that game, not after 2:47 of the second period, and said days later as players departed for the summer that it was unlikely he would have been able to play in Game 7 had the Capitals won.
“It was just kind of a weird one-two movement, and I just felt it pop and we went in and had a look at it,” Alzner said at the time. “As far as I know, there’s a little partial tear in the groin, so I was not at a point where I could help the team. When you saw my shift in the second period more hurt the team, at that point, we knew it was time.”
Alzner set a franchise record in January by playing in his 423rd consecutive regular-season game — a streak that reached 458 games by the finale on April 10. He did so despite playing with a broken thumb, a strained oblique and a pulled hip flexor, though he said at the start of the playoffs that he felt as healthy as he had been all season.
The Capitals provided no additional details about Alzner’s operation other than to say they believe he will be ready for the start of next season. A sports hernia is a tear of any number of tendons or muscles in the pubic region and is a common injury among hockey players.
The recovery time varies, but typically takes no longer than a month. Former defenseman Mike Green, now with the Detroit Red Wings, underwent a similar procedure in Jan. 2012 and missed approximately five weeks. Former center Brooks Laich, now with the Toronto Maple Leafs, also was afflicted by that injury in April 2013 and was able to practice after a month, but the Capitals’ season ended before he was able to appear in a game.
Alzner tied a career high with 21 points, including 17 assists, and was on the ice for 21:23 a game, marking his greatest workload in parts of eight seasons. He and Matt Niskanen served as the Capitals’ top defensive pairing for much of the year with John Carlson and Brooks Orpik battling injuries.