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Hanzal could miss start of next season for Stars because of back surgery

Forward to have spinal fusion procedure soon, expected to need 6-7 months to recover

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Martin Hanzal will have spinal fusion surgery in the coming days and could miss the start of next season for the Dallas Stars.

The recovery time for the surgery is 6-7 months, Stars general manager Jim Nill said Friday.

Hanzal had 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 38 games this season. The 31-year-old center has missed 29 games because of injury.

"We just want to get [Hanzal] taken care of now," Nill said. "We've got time on our side a little bit now. This will help to get him back for next season. That's the path we're taking."

Nill said Hanzal's initial injury occurred in late November. He had three injection treatments to try to play through the pain.

"It was just something that slowly came upon and it kind of got worse and worse," Nill said. "He was getting these injections to try to manage it and it finally got the point where the injections didn't help anymore."

Nill said the Stars are not treating this as a career-threatening surgery.

"The doctors already told him within four weeks he can start light skating," Nill said. "Really, it's just the healing. When you do a fusion it's really just letting the bones heal back up, get strong again. That's the main recovery part."

Hanzal has a history of back injuries. He had surgery to repair a herniated disk in July 2008 and another back surgery in February 2015.

Dr. Robert Watkins, a Los Angeles-based back specialist, operated on Hanzal each time and will perform the fusion surgery, Nill said.

The Stars are not sure if Hanzal's previous back issues are related to this injury. He signed a three-year, $14.25 million contract July 1 as a free agent (average annual value of $4.75 million).

"It's part of the business, part of the game," Nill said. "We're going to miss him, yes, but it's an opportunity for somebody else. This is part of the game. You're going to have injuries and you've got to overcome these. We've seen Radek Faksa step up. Jason Dickinson is going to get a chance now. It's just an opportunity for somebody else."

The Stars, who play the Anaheim Ducks at American Airlines Center on Friday (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-SW, FS-W, NHL.TV), hold the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. Dallas has 80 points, one more than the Los Angeles Kings, who hold the second wild card. The Stars are fourth in the Central Division, three points behind the third-place Minnesota Wild.

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