Brock Boeser briefly feared for his NHL career after the Vancouver Canucks forward broke a bone in his back late in his rookie season.
"Right after, when I was going to the hospital, that's the thoughts you have because I was in so much pain," Boeser told Sportsnet on Wednesday. "It was definitely scary. [But] the first thing I did when I was laying there on the ice was move my toes and legs. Then I could relax a little bit. I knew something was wrong; I just didn't know what it was. It was still pretty scary."
Boeser was injured with 27 seconds remaining in the third period of a 4-3 overtime win against the New York Islanders on March 5. He hit his back against an open bench door and broke a transverse process, a bony spur that projects off the side of each vertebrae, Sportsnet said.
At the time, Boeser had 29 goals to lead NHL rookies. He was second with 55 points in 61 games, 12 points behind Mathew Barzal of the Islanders, and did not play the final 16 games of the season.
"It was hard, especially because I love the game so much and I never want to miss any games," Boeser said. "But I've got to look at the other side of it. I am pretty lucky because that injury could have ended my career, honestly."
Boeser said his expected six-week recovery is on schedule. He also needs platelet-rich plasma injections and four weeks of immobilization to treat a wrist injury.
Boeser, who in January was the first rookie named MVP of the Honda NHL All-Star Game, finished fifth in rookie scoring. Vancouver (31-40-11) finished 22 points out of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Western Conference, and forwards Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin have retired.
"I don't want to have a letdown year. You hear about that (sophomore jinx) stuff," Boeser said. "But I'm not worried about that. I'm going to really focus this summer on getting better, and improving my skating, and just continue to work hard. The year I had, that gives me a lot of confidence and kind of tells me the player I can be in the NHL."