BOSTON - Chris Wagner revealed on Monday morning that the injury he suffered while blocking a shot in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final was a displaced ulna that required surgery.
The winger dropped in front of a Justin Faulk slap shot on May 14 in Carolina and did not play again during the postseason. But he was closer to a return than even he could have imagined.
Wagner needed surgery to insert some hardware and repair the fracture around his right wrist, but a strong rehab in the four weeks following the injury had him back on the ice skating the day before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Walpole native practiced with the Bruins ahead of Game 7 and was cleared for a return by the team's medical staff, but ultimately coach Bruce Cassidy opted to stick with the forward group that had forced the decisive winner-take-all contest.
"I fought to come back pretty quick," Wagner said during his end-of-season media availability at TD Garden. "That was kind of the [earliest] possible day that I might have been available. Great job by the doctors to even get to that point because initially I was done. But it was healing so well that I just wanted to be an option for Game 7."
Video: Wagner reveals injury during final media availability
Wagner noted - while searching for some wood to knock on - that it was the first bone he had ever broken. It was a sacrifice that was painful both physically and mentally.
"Right when I had the surgery I felt so much better because I was in that much pain that Tuesday when it happened," said Wagner, who had two goals in 12 postseason games. "Game 7 - every game I couldn't play - it's pretty much torture. You have no control over the whole situation. It's just tough.
"You're rooting for your guys, you're so invested in what 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."
While the finish to the season was not what he envisioned, Wagner could not have been more pleased with how his first season with Boston played out. The hometown boy, who signed a two-year deal with the Black & Gold last July, was named NESN's Seventh Player Award winner after his strong work as a fourth-line stalwart.
Playing mostly alongside Sean Kuraly, Noel Acciari, and Joakim Nordstrom, Wagner cruised to career highs in goals (12) and points (19), while also carving out an important role on Boston's penalty kill.
"When I signed, I thought we were a Cup contender, but there's so many things that have to fall into place for that to happen," said Wagner, who quickly became a fan favorite. "The year is so long, from China to training camp to Winter Classic, we had all the highs and lows pretty much.
"To make it this far is an accomplishment, but it still sucks. It will suck for a while. Overall, I had a blast all year. I couldn't have drawn it up - well, I could have drawn it up better, but up to that point…it was fun."