How Lightning's Mikhail Sergachev has battled back from serious injury

Eduardo A. Encina, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Hockey

TAMPA, Fla. — Mikhail Sergachev still can’t watch the video of the play that ended his regular season two months ago at Madison Square Garden.

It’s still too soon, and it brings up too many bad memories. The surgery scars on his left leg, above his knee, along the upper side of his inner calf and across the front of his ankle, already offer a daily reminder every time he puts on his gear.

The Lightning defenseman has learned that his journey back to the ice is best served focusing on looking forward, not back.

It has been nine weeks since Sergachev’s leg crumpled underneath the weight of his own body while battling for a puck in the Lightning’s first game after the All-Star break Feb. 7 against the Rangers; he broke both the fibula and tibia.

Sergachev returned to Lightning practice for the first time Monday, wearing a red no-contact jersey. He has been skating for nearly four weeks and is far from fully recovered — there’s still no definitive timetable on a potential postseason return — but he has learned a lot about himself coming back from the first major injury of his career.

“It’s just all about the mental side of things,” Sergachev said. “The leg is (fine). There’s a metal rod in there, so it’s not going anywhere. So that’s the main issue, the head. ... It’s just gaining confidence. What looks like normal things for everybody else, for me, it was kind of like Mount Everest it felt like.”


While his teammates prepare for the playoffs, Sergachev is concentrating on getting his strength back, which has been a methodical path that has included both good days and bad. He has had teammates to lean on, specifically captain Steven Stamkos, who broke his right leg sliding into a goal post in 2013. Like Sergchev, he was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher.

“Until you go through it, you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know how you’re going to react mentally and I think that is the hardest part,” Stamkos said.

“Physically over time things heal, right? You know that. It’s proven. It’s a fact. … Having gone through it, there are moments when you feel like you might never play hockey and then you kind of see the progression and then you get excited about it and then you’re pushing yourself towards the next goal and I just told him, it’s going to be that way.

“There’s going to be tough days, there’s painful days, but it’s gonna get better. And I think he’s at a point now where he’s excited about getting to that next level in his recovery and that’s great to see.”


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