Jack Eichel’s surgery breakthrough for NHL players as Tyler Johnson has artificial disc replacement

Chicago Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson will be sidelined for about three months after undergoing neck surgery on Friday.

Johnson last played for the Blackhawks on Oct. 29. The team placed him on long-term injured reserve on Nov. 17.

“After trying to manage his neck pain conservatively for the past couple of weeks, Tyler underwent neck surgery today,” Chicago team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement. “The prognosis is good and his anticipated return to play is approximately three months.”

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Johnson has same surgery as Jack Eichel

According to multiple reports, Johnson underwent the same complex artificial disk replacement surgery that Jack Eichel of the Vegas Golden Knights had last month.

Asked about the nature of Johnson’s surgery, Blackhawks interim coach Derek King said, “I’m not a doctor, believe me, but they tried different procedures. It wasn’t getting what they want out of them, so this was the next step. And they decided this is what was best for him and his career.”

Johnson, 31, has one goal and two assists in eight games this season.

He is in his first campaign with Chicago after spending eight-plus seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Johnson has 162 goals and 202 assists (364 points) in 589 career games.

Also, Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy entered concussion protocol, one day after Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals checked him into the boards during Chicago’s 4-3 shootout victory.

King said there is no timetable for Murphy’s return.

“Those are tough,” King said, referring to concussions. “It’s an individual thing. Some guys recover quicker than others, some guys it takes a little longer. It depends on how bad the concussion was.”

Murphy has one goal and one assist in 22 games this season, his fifth with Chicago. The 28-year-old has 29 goals and 83 assists (112 points) in 516 games with the Coyotes (2013-17) and Blackhawks.

Chicago visits the New York Rangers on Saturday.

Jack Eichel was hoping this would change things

Jack Eichel
Eichel wearing his new team colors (Zak Krill/Vegas Golden Knights)

Eichel, 25, was captain of the Sabres, for whom he played six years, before clashing with Buffalo management over his health care. He was adamant that he needed an artificial disk replacement while the Sabres wanted him to have fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk.

After a lengthy holdout, Eichel was traded to Vegas, which agreed to let him undergo his preferred surgical option.

The operation was done on November 12th at a spine clinic in the Denver area.

Eichel spoke with ESPN’s John Buccigross afterwards and told him that the disc that was removed from his neck was a mess. “I honestly feel really good,” he said. “I just went for a walk. I’m more motivated than ever.”

One thing Eichel made clear after his trade is that he wanted his stance on getting his preferred surgery to shed more light on the CBA. “I don’t necessarily agree with the team having full say in medical decisions,” he said. “I think it should be a collaboration.”

It looks like Eichel’s stance has already had a profound impact.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report