Hartnell was injured during the Flyers' game Jan. 22 at the New Jersey Devils, and days later it was announced he would miss four-to-six weeks after surgery Jan. 25 to repair a broken first metatarsal in his foot.
It was reported that Hartnell sustained the injury when he was hit in the foot by a shot by teammate Kimmo Timonen. While that shot did do damage, it wasn't when the injury occurred.
"It actually happened in the second period of that game," Hartnell told the team's website. "One of the Devils' defensemen took a shot and I blocked it with my foot and by the way it felt, I knew something was wrong. At the intermission, I took my skate off to have Jimmy [McCrossin, trainer] look at it, and when I went to take a step, it hurt so much I fell to the floor in the locker room."
X-rays taken between periods didn't show anything, so Hartnell went back out for the third period, thinking he had only a bone bruise.
"Then Kimmo takes a shot and hit the same exact spot," Hartnell said. "That's why I went down so quick. It was really painful. So it wasn't his shot that fractured the bone, but I like blaming him anyway."
Hartnell said a similar thing happened earlier in his career, when he played for the Nashville Predators -- hit in the foot with a shot, X-rays were negative, kept playing, and later a fracture was found.
"I blocked a shot, the X-ray was negative, and I actually went out and played the next two games," Hartnell said. "Then, before the start of the third game, we were doing our soccer ball warm-up and I planted on the foot and the bone just snapped."
Hartnell, who had a career-best 37 goals last season, now has to watch as his teammates struggle to produce offense, especially on the power play. Philadelphia was second in the League last season at 3.17 goals per game, but entering Thursday's games, they're 25th at 2.00 goals per game, and have scored more than two goals in a game once in their first seven games.
And their power play, which was tied for fifth on the power play at 19.7 percent, is just 5-for-37 this season (13.5 percent), including a 1-for-6 performance Tuesday against the New York Rangers. Hartnell, second in the League with 16 power-play goals last season, certainly could help that phase of the game.
"Last year I had a lot of power play goals," Hartnell said. "Being in front and causing havoc -- everyone has their roles on the power play and everyone is just as important as everyone else and we really had it going almost the whole year and in the playoffs. Then you watch the game on TV -- and I haven't really watched many games over the past six years -- but it seems easier when you watch on TV. I find myself talking out loud saying, 'Why didn't you do this,' or 'What a play that was.' You remove yourself from being out there and it’s tough."
Hartnell said he's focusing on healing and will start working out as soon as he gets medical clearance. For a player who had missed three games the previous five seasons, missing any time is a strange feeling.
"It's part of the game," he said. "It's frustrating that it had to happen to me right at the start of the short season. It's almost like a whole year that I haven't played in a game. It's a shame because I was starting to feel a little bit better on the ice and getting my timing and reading plays. … The hardest part has been having to just sit back and watch the rest of the guys play."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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