Tomas Hertl said Monday he feels he's ahead of schedule after having surgery for a torn ACL and MCL on his left knee Feb. 3.
The San Jose Sharks forward worked out for the first time since his surgery, using an exercise bike with one leg. He no longer has to walk around with crutches and is expected to be ready for training camp in September.
"I don't mind working out and I know I will get back and I will have no issues," Hertl told The Mercury News. "So that's the positive side. I'm just looking forward to every day, getting stronger.
"I wanted to just get it done and start working out. The sooner you get the range of motion in the muscle, it's easier just to do everything. I just now am looking forward to keep working and get back. It'll be a big break for me, but I can't wait for September and play hockey again. I know I will come back even better than I was before."
Hertl sustained the season-ending injury early in the first period of a 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 29. He took a shot before Canucks defenseman Christopher Tanev fell, slid into him and made contact with his left knee. Hertl left the ice under his own power and later tested the knee during a play stoppage but did not return
"I knew something had happened, but not that bad because I just stand up and skate away," Hertl said. "We tried to tape it up and try a little skate. But I know the MCL, because I've had the MCL (injury) many times, so I know how it feels. So I said, 'I don't feel comfortable. I don't want to come back.'
"That's why I was still kind of OK, because you think it's the MCL; it's as not as long like the ACL. But when I heard from doctors, it was kind of a shock. Even after a day, it wasn't swollen, it wasn't that painful. I just kind of felt the MCL. But when they checked the MRI, they said (the ACL) was done."
Hertl had surgery for damaged ligaments in his right knee as a rookie in 2013-14. He injured his right knee in Game 2 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, missed the rest of the best-of-7 series and had surgery for a sprained right knee during the 2016-17 season. He was San Jose's representative at the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game and scored five goals to help the Pacific Division win the tournament.
"I had just come from the All-Star (Game), got a great week … and this happened," Hertl said. "I know what I did before. I know I can work hard and get it back even stronger. I've got seven months to get ready, so I should be ready for the season."
The Sharks (24-27-4), who are 2-1-0 without Hertl and 5-5-0 without center Logan Couture (fractured ankle), play the Calgary Flames at SAP Center on Monday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, SNW, NHL.TV). San Jose trails Calgary by 10 points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.