SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Tomas Hertl may have indicated to his father that he'll be out of the Sharks' lineup for at least a month with a lower body injury. But coach Todd McLellan said Friday he was waiting for a more authoritative voice to find out how long he'll be without stellar rookie forward.
According to Roman Jedlicka with TV Nova Sport, Hertl messaged his dad, Jaroslav, that he expected to be out for a month after a mid-ice, knee-on-knee hit from Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown on Thursday night. Brown was given was given a five-minute major and game misconduct penalties but will not face any supplemental discipline from the NHL.
More was expected to be known about Hertl's injury after he had an MRI and was examined by the Sharks' medical staff Friday. McLellan did rule Hertl out of Saturday's home game against the Dallas Stars and said he likely will not play against Colorado on Monday either.
"Tomas talks to his dad. That's great. We talk to doctors, trainers, and they're evaluating things today," McLellan said. "He's not playing tomorrow, and he's probably not playing before Christmas, and right now I don't expect him back for a little while. But let's let the doctors make that decision, let's let the trainers make that call."
Sharks forward Marty Havlat said Hertl, a Calder Trophy candidate as the league's top rookie, was still "pretty sore" when he talked with him Friday.
"It's an unfortunate thing, but injuries are a part of hockey," said Havlat, who didn't want to say whether the injury would affect Hertl's chances of playing for the Czech Republic at the Sochi Olympics in February.
"He'll battle through that and do everything he can to be back as soon as possible. He's going to get the help he needs."
Brown said Friday after the Kings practiced that he was trying to avoid Hertl.
"I understand why they call it. It happens really fast, and the refs don't have the benefit of watching a replay," Brown said. "But in the replay, it clearly showed me trying to avoid. It's one of those things where we're on the same tracks and deciding which way to go. It happens quick on the ice, but the replay shows me trying to get out of the way."
Hertl, 20, has 15 goals for the Sharks this season and tops all NHL rookies with 25 points, and his injury comes as a time when several San Jose forwards are mired in offensive slumps.
Logan Couture has not scored in his last eight games, Brent Burns has one goal and one assist in his last 10 games, and Tommy Wingels has one goal and two assists in his last 10.
In their last eight games, the Sharks are 2-5-1 and have scored just 17 goals.
"The more pressure you put on yourself and the harder you grip your stick, you usually don't get the bounces you want," Wingels said. "It's just getting back to the little things that make your game successful, get into the tougher areas on the ice and making your chances count."
With Hertl's injury, Matt Nieto was recalled from San Francisco of the ECHL and he participated in Friday's practice, where McLellan shuffled his two top lines. Joe Thornton was skating with Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski, and Havlat was with Burns and James Sheppard.
"It creates a hole for somebody else to step up," McLellan said of Hertl's injury. "But even when Tomas was in the lineup, we were looking for guys to step up over the past couple weeks. Some nights, some show they're very capable. Other nights, we're still looking for guys."
After practice, Burns met with McLellan in his office for about 45 minutes. Couture, who normally skates with the top two lines, was given the option by McLellan to skate before practice and not have to take part in what was a physical session.
With two games left before the three-day Christmas break, McLellan wants his team to "empty the tank."
"Make sure that you're competing for your ice time," he said. "In Tomas' case, make sure that you're competing for his ice time."
Staff writer David Pollak contributed to this report.
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