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Q&A w/ Dr. Pinegar On Mark Stone’s Lumbar Discectomy

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On Wednesday, Mark Stone underwent a surgical procedure to repair a back issue that has been plaguing him for several years and basically ruined his 2021-22 season.

The Golden Knights announced Thursday that the lumbar discectomy surgery was a success and added he is expected to be ready to play for the regular season.

We consulted our resident injury expert, Dr. Caleb Pinegar of Crovetti Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine to give us more information on anything and everything surrounding this type of surgery.

Here’s the full Q&A with Vegas Sports Doc, Dr. Pinegar.

How do you pronounce lumbar discectomy and what is it?

When you say it you say the word “disc” first then “ectomy” which means removal. So lumbar discectomy means they’ve taken part of the disc out of the vertebrae.

Between every bone of the spine is a little shock absorber and each of those shock absorbers is pretty stout and strong but if you take the wrong hit or fold or just actively mobilize the spine while you change positions and if you do it just right you can squirt this little inner shock-absorbing material out of the rim that’s supposed to be real strong.

Wait, “squirts out”?

Yeah. The material is called the nucleus pulposus. It’s a jelly-like substance that looks like crab meat. So this little gooey stuff squirts out of your shock absorber and it causes the nerve near it to get really inflamed and irritated or it’s big enough of a squirt that it will pinch the nerve and cause the nerve to not work.

The initial major injury happened in October and then he came back multiple times and played. So do we think this “crab meat” shot out then?

Probably. The odds are very good that disc herniations get better over time. They don’t necessarily go away but the body can reabsorb some of the disc material and if you give the person time, anti-inflammatories, steroids, and physical therapy a lot of people can skip the surgery. So for the period of time he was out, they were probably trying to calm it down. If the symptoms calm down and the person isn’t having any shooting pain and they just have the ache of back pain, you can play through it. But if you don’t get it to go away then you can just say, let’s go get that piece. They do a minimally invasive incision and clean out that torn disc.

Does taking a part of the disc out fix the problem for good?

Once a disc has been herniated, the problem is it’s more likely to herniate again. You also have the fact that if one pops it’s possible that one of the discs above or below it pops, which is called adjacent disease where you can get a level up or down that gets problematic. If those things happen, that’s when people start fusing their backs.

What is the recovery time usually on a lumbar discectomy?

Three months is a pretty good rule of thumb. Many of the studies on athletes with this type of surgery indicate an average return to play of 2.8 to 3.2 months. He won’t start much hard therapy for probably six weeks and then they’ll slowly advance him. The patient usually feels really quite better right away but you really have to take it easy.

From what I’ve read on the topic, it seems like a first back surgery tends to lead to another and another and another. What is it about this surgery that lends itself to there being multiple down the road?

Well, you hope they aren’t in rapid succession, but will Mark Stone have back surgery again in his life? Chances are super high, but it shouldn’t be fast.

The problem is once the disc becomes brittle, it has a high likelihood of having another problem. He didn’t squirt out all of the crab meat, some of that is still in there, and he could have it happen again. It could be five or ten years from now, but once that disc is broken like that, it’ll start to calcify and it’ll start to bother people again.

The main concern most people have when they hear about back injuries and surgeries is that the player will either not return to playing at all or if they do, they won’t be nearly as good as they were before. Do you share this concern?

The return to plays are 80-90%, so that’s not everybody. And I always tell my patients, “no one wants to be the minority on surgical success, but somebody is.” But most likely you are looking at an average of three months of recovery and I think there’s no reason we can’t get peak Mark Stone for this season and the foreseeable future. He totally should be able to return to that.

His odds of being fully ready for the season are very good and his odds of being fixed for the remaining several years are also very good. In the future, I think he gets a big back surgery, but that should be well beyond the end of his playing days. Well, unless he has another injury. But otherwise, he should be pretty stable throughout several more years of his career.

**Thanks again to Dr. Pinegar for always sharing his expertise on the injury situations surrounding the Golden Knights. Dr. Pinegar is a physician with Crovetti Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine located in Henderson, NV. Read more about him and the practice here.**

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52 Comments

  1. Bobby

    Great article, thanks for the update. Here’s to a healthy recovery for captain

  2. John W

    This sounds very positive. Did a little research, and turns out Rob Gronkowski has had this surgery at least twice. Pretty clear he can play at a pretty high level still, in a contact sport.

    I guess my only question is wondering if they should have operated sooner.

    Regardless, the prospect of a finally healthy Stone next season sure sounds good.

  3. Tim

    Nice breakdown Ken hopefully he comes back healthy we missed him this year. His energy and poke checking were sorely missed.

  4. Dee

    Great article! Dr Corvetti’s group are super talented and really know their stuff.

  5. Julie

    I hope Mark Stone comes back stronger than ever. Back problems are no joke. Also glad he cut his hair. 🙂

  6. S. D. Miller

    Why couldn’t Stone get an artificial disc replacement like Eichel, or is that only for neck problems?

    • Can anyone tell me the difference between the surgery that or rather the damage that I could have versus stone? It seems that they both had the same type of surgery except Michael wanted the artificial replay if the artificial replacement and stone apparently didn’t.

  7. George L.

    This article is much better than Ken’s unhinged rant on the Podcast. Much better.

  8. CBrannen

    Julie, I’m with you….the haircut turned him into a good-looking man instead of a man trying to look like a kid. Also hope for a good recovery for him.

  9. Well Ken looks like you redeemed your self at least in some eyes. The posting was very timely and brought home many memories. Backs are quite an issue in the lives of many and the injuries that occur can happen very easily. I wish Stone well and whoever the new coach turns out to be will certainly be able to use his skills.

  10. Best of recoveries to Stone. Hope he NEVER faces fusion surgery…that restricts movement…not a good outcome.

  11. THE hockey GOD

    Camera moves in for close up, black and white reel whirling in back ground. Scene 1 take 5, hospital bed room.

    “DR” MOE HOWARD : “MORE COTTEN !”
    “DR” CURLY HOWARD: “MORE COTTEN!”
    DR LARRY FINE : “Here you go Dr Howard”. Hands Curly a swath of cotton.
    Curly drop it.

    MOE “PICK IT UP
    CURLY ” YOU PICK UP”
    MOE: “YOU PICK IT UP YOU PUDDIN’ HEAD”
    Curly leans over to pick up swath, just as Moe is about to brain
    him , and hit’s Larry instead.
    Larry “OUCH, WHY YOU HIT ME.
    Curly is still bent over.
    MOE “Get UP.
    CURLY moans in pain.
    MOE “What’s wrong with you?”
    Curly ” I got a weak back”.
    Larry” How long have you had that weak back?
    Curly ‘ I reckon from about a week back ! Nyuck , nyyuck nyuck..whoop whoop whoop.”
    Moe brains Curly.

    To Mark Stone sincere wishes for a complete, fast, and safe recovery !!

  12. knights fan in minny

    what does this have to do with back surgery

  13. Contact Tracer

    Brilliant putting the Giordano’s Pizza ad right after reading about human filler meat squirting about …. thanks!

  14. Open letter to Foley:
    McCrimmon and McFhee do not make good music together. Each is trying to impress you with the most outlandish, juvenile, ridiculous decision, perhaps just to gain your attention?
    appear strong when they have no clue how to manage the breadwinner? Definitely not for the good of the VGK…Each time we have a team that plays well together and produces results, guaranteed the good players are gone. (Dadanov, Fleury, Schmidt and Thompson for example) We have a team now that has been forced to play with a defect, and who will ALWAYS be a social and emotional defect, who was predictably inconsistent and couldn’t even keep his mouth shut with a script..
    We had a coach who not only couldn’t see that (didn’t practice law, or hockey obviously or he would have been avoided) who thought as soon as we had got 3 goals then we played a different game: now the game was to prevent the other side from making points Instead of focusing on how many more goals we could make. It was palpable in the stands, we hated to see us at 3 goals: guaranteed losd. Foley, you are a West Point graduate, a leader of men. who seems to be one of the many that I have known firsthand who cannot be allowed in the frozen food department by themselves in fear of their safety. ZERO “drift sense or survival skills)

    But for the long term injured reserve list, we would have been playing the Silver Knights players.
    The salary cap FIASCO is UNFORGIVABLE. Do something. There is a plethora of guys who really can figure out how to actually make a salary cap “dance.”
    Keep in mind from one who was born here: Las Vegas doesn’t not suffer losers for a minute. The attention span is zip. We give them bus money and a ticket out of town. “NEXT!”
    EVERYONE comes to Las Vegas. We compete against the world on every level. Your management style doesn’t get it here. Our management is hands on. ALL the time, all day, all night. We cannot afford to delegate management for one minute, much less a whole day. We would robbed blind in seconds. JUST AS YOU ARE BEING ROBBED BLIND by McCrimmon and McFee. We can see it in the stands, why can’t you? Las Vegas culture from time immemorial, does not abide a lazy man. You will lose everything fast. Faster than anyplace else in the world.
    BEG your extraordinary players to stay and the other extraordinary players to come back. Everything in Las Vegas is first rate.. Are you?? Las Vegas makes it worthwhile to play here. The players genuinely liked doing a good job for you and Las Vegas. Our population is our finest asset… Think about that. And unlike the Officer and Gentleman Congress says you are, you are disloyal and dishonorable in what you have allowed to happen in your name. “Names” in Las Vegas mean everything. McCrimmon and Mc Fee have to go. They never got past age13 trying to impress their Moms and now you. You KNOW better. You have an OBLIGATION to us to field the best team you can. They will play til they drop for a good leader. You know that. My brother was honored by five hundred helicopter pilots at a convention in his honor for leading his men through a vicious war. You should be leading, not abrogated your team to defects, incompetence and 13 year olds.

  15. Obvious

    2 players with potentially career ending back issues…..

    Has the makings of fat bastard firing another coach after 1 season

    • Pistol Pete

      Obvious, you should not go calling names. One thing is nearly for certain, even at his age McCrimmon is one fuck of a better skater and hockey player than you will ever be.

      • Pistol Pete

        I stand to be corrected if you played NCAA or Major Junior. McCrimmon was captain at University if Michigan. Not a prolific scorer but says something of leadership ability.

  16. Obvious

    Add into the mix a psycho goalie the players can’t stand

    • Jeff

      I wonder what makes you think the players can’t stand him, do you have direct quotes from players saying so?

  17. Chuckles

    Couple of coaches names to throw in the hat. Paul Maurice and Joel Quenneville although a longer shot. Hockey has changed. Personally important year for properly getting out of Cap regret. Also start making better decisions on players. Something not right with great coaches and talent not lasting long. Just saying!

  18. Galdom

    Creator of this blog will lose his shit if Joel Quenneville is hired. I’d be okay with it though. Quenneville did a bad thing, paid a price, name is tarnished, if NHL decides he can be reinstated then I’m good with it.

    • Pistol Pete

      Galdom, Q was not very culpable imo. I read the Report. President John McDonough was at the meeting and it was upon him to suspend Aldrich on the spot which is what he should have done. Seeing as how Q was out ranked in the meeting by two or three attending it’s not surprising he was not more assertive. Could he have stepped in and recommended suspending Aldrich? Yes but it’s not surprising he did not.

      Q is the VGK’s best shot at winning a Cup at this point. I emailed the Report to VGK management as the second of two communications I had with them on the matter. I want McCrimmon to know there is support in the fanbase for hiring Q.

  19. Henderson's Finest

    So the rumor was that DeBoer did not want Stone to have surgery during the season. Don’t know how true that is, but if it is, just another reason for Pete to be shown the door.

  20. Original 6✅

    creator of the blog is a Woke simp that passes out at the sight of blood ! obviously he hasn’t seen enough of what makes hockey the hardest a toughest sport ! He probably covers his eyes when a fight breaks out. Everyone knows Quenneville is the right choice. and the NHL will let him coach !!!!! Got that creator. pistol Pete explains it absolutely perfectly in prior blog I urge all you to read it also. if creator can’t except it pistol pete i suggest to take over in his place.

    • THE hockey GOD

      O6 really is DON CHERRY

      behind the mask and curtain.

      I know it
      He knows it
      now EVERYONE knows it

  21. Galdom

    Original 6. What the fuck!!! ROTFL.

    This isn’t a military coup. You can’t declare that Pistol Pete takes over from Ken Boehlke because you don’t share the same opinions. Bahahahahaha

    • Pistol Pete

      I would never be a replacement for Ken lol. I do not agree with Ken on Q though. With the President in the room Q was not much at fault imo. If Q wants to come here and guides the VGK to the playoffs not many fans will have a problem with him. There will be murmuring at first but they’ll fade if the team wins.

  22. Galdom

    My feeling is that Joel Quenneville will be allowed back in the NHL. Gary Bettman‘s quote to ESPN says it all. “ Joel Quenneville has not approached me about being reinstated“. If there was no chance, then Bettman probably starts with that and shuts down the conversation.

    I’m not the moral authority on whether he should be allowed back or not especially without being privy to all the details so I have no opinion one way or the other.

    If he is allowed back then you might hire him because he could be the best person for the job. I thought Pete DeBoer was a pretty decent coach and I am of the opinion that every coach is hired and has a certain shelf life and eventually is fired. DeBoer will coach again very soon probably as soon as next year.

    What the team needs now is some stability and Quenneville has actually had some very long coaching stints in St. Louis and Chicago. To last that long in an NHL coaching role shows me both competence and an ability to get along with the front office.

    The million dollar question is whether Quenneville would want the job or not. There are going to be some lean years ahead whether VGK fans want to admit it or not. If the competitive window is not already closed then it will slam shut in the next year or two.

    Is Joel Quenneville up for an eight year stint in which the first four years can be a retooling of the franchise, generating prospects and some semblance of a decent minor league system or do they hire some unknown schmuck / placeholder for the upcoming lean years only to fire them when the team is rebuilt again.

    • THE hockey GOD

      if they let queeneville back in
      then they
      should let pete rose back in, as well as everybody else.

      EVERYBODY IN THE POOL NOW, but shower first !

      Note not a single coach has interviewed in vegas yet. And Trotz is on his way to second city already.

      • Pistol Pete

        ThG, Q’s situation is not even close to Rose’s and even more distant from Paterno’s, in fact he was barely culpable.

    • THE hockey GOD

      queenville has unfinished business in Florida, especially after current series is said, and done.

    • Pistol Pete

      Galdom, Quinneville compiles a winning record no matter where he goes. Not sure how he does it. He was a really good player himself, a first round D, which probably means he’s a player’s coach. More than that he’s a master strategizer I believe who is able to get the most out of his roster depending on each opponent. I suspect his players go more by instinct and motivation than being tethered to rigid systems. On-ice formations are still important though.

    • Pistol Pete

      Galdom, here is the Report. You’ll see it was McDonough who should have acted to suspend Aldrich on the spot.

      https://jenner.com/system/assets/assets/11549/original/Report%20to%20the%20Chicago%20Blackhawks%20Hockey%20Team%20-%20October%202021.pdf

  23. Tim

    Quenneville may very well have unfinished business in Florida after there performance against Tampa. That would make sense that leaves us Trotz as a decent alternate and after that it’s recycle heaven. When you think about it the way management has put us in this cap hell with the wrong personal not sure it will make much difference. Anyone watching the St. Louis series Perron doesn’t look to bad every time I think about letting him go it makes me sick. Oh well now that we all know the way management treats players and fans nothing surprises me anymore.

  24. Galdom

    I think this team badly needs a leadership / guidance voice that will be respected and listened to. No disrespect to Mark Stone who is my favourite player but when you are completely absent from all of the battles and adversity from last season due to injury (not his fault) I don’t believe he is the guy at least for next season. Pietrangelo does not seem to be that guy. I think Marchessault tries to be that but I just don’t think he is that guy either. Coach Q or Trotz can be that voice.

    With Coach Q he can take all of the immediate pressure off of McPhee and McCrimmon. McCrimmon need not speak anymore and just do his job managing the roster and cap.

    With Quenneville I would want him to have complete and total control over the players in regards to their roles and duties.

    I love the idea that Ken brought up about Rikard Gronborg however I am not sure how much he would be respected by the players if he were to implement his own system.

    I know that in today’s NHL the players have a lot of power, in fact in all sports they do. An NHL coach may want to move a center to the wing or a baseball manager may want to move a player into a different spot in the batting order it may not be able to do so without the players blessing. With Quenneville I believe that he can do whatever he wants and the players would have to conform to it. I think that’s what this team needs.

    If he were to want to make Karlsson a third line centre in spite of his salary then so be it. It is done without any objection from the player or fans he still affectionately call him a misfit. God does that ever need to stop. Stop living in the past people, Perron has been gone for a very long time.

    Same with Jack Eichel. Quenneville would be in charge of making Jack Eichel whatever type of player he wishes him to be. If it is the best course of action for the team for Jack to become a 2 way center then that’s the way it shall be.

    • THE hockey GOD

      @galdom
      “Karlson a third line center.”

      Almost ALL the knights were playing one or two stations above their level. Karlson is ok third line center, and would be a superb fourth line center. As a matter of fact the misfit line itself is no longer first or second, and better suited to third or fourth line. VGK has no first line or second line. Mostly made up of third and fourth liners, with one or two individuals who would make first or second line on major contender teams.

      They haven’t had a first line GOALIE since their first year. They really need to get a good goalie, I mean over the top goalie. Without a top level goalie this team is stuck in Flin Flon, Moosehead, or dare I say REGINA ?? Now who wants to be stuck in a REgina ? NO ONE !

      COTTON
      COTTON !!!
      C O T T O N !!!!!!!!!!!

      • Galdom

        THG, you seem to be of the opinion that they are shit and you may be right saying that they have no first or second line and don’t have a good goalie. If this is the case then you can’t fix it all in one off-season and that’s okay. I would hope that if they run it back for next season and this turns out to be the case that they implement a plan to retool. Not rebuild but retool. I don’t want them to be a shitty bottom feeding team for 5 to 7 years. However, The latter could become reality. Colorado spent some time being crap. I prefer the Carolina and St. Louis model, not bottom feeding but adding pieces in a 3 to 4 year period and then striking when least suspected.

        No disrespect to the great people that comment on the site but if the commenters are a representative of the entire fan base then y’all are not ready for what might be coming. Lean years.

  25. Galdom

    Pistol Pete, while I agree with you that Quenneville may be able to get the most out of this roster I don’t think they are very good. I think that’s where we may disagree. I don’t want this team to bottom feed but I want to coach to get the most out of them keeping them relevant while they slowly build a respectable minor-league system and draft prospects.

    I think I enjoyed this team best when they were four lines deep and everyone was getting close to equal ice. I take a look at St. Louis’s forward lines and it’s not even close. Things really happen quickly. Reilly Smith is gone, Karlsson has regressed. I believe when fully healthy Pacioretty and Stone will also show some regression. Doesn’t mean that this team still can’t be half decent but my expectations are tempered. While they can’t go four lines deep because of the lack of talent and so much money alloyed to Eichel I do see a way with great coaching that they can put forth a three line attack.

    Something like…….

    Pacioretty – Eichel – Roy
    Marchessault – Stephenson – Amadio
    Carrier – Karlsson – Stone
    Kolesar – Howden – Patrick
    Morozov

    There is no first, second or third line. At home when you can match lines Karlsson and Stone can defend against the top lines of other teams.

    One more thought. I would not have fired DeBoer. I would have kept him on for at least this season. While I think they can be half decent there is a very real possibility they could be terrible this year if the regressions continue at a become rapid for Karlsson, Stone, Pacioretty and Pietrangelo. The team was built to win last year and it did not.

    Would have made sense that in the event that they suck this year that a new coach would be brought in for the 2023-24 season to grow with the team. That’s when maybe you bring in a Rikard Gronborg or Spencer Carberry.

    I don’t think management sees this team as being bad next year or perhaps doesn’t want to see that and that’s why we will get a win now type of coach like Quenneville, Trotz or Claude Julien. This team loves going after personnel that beat them in the previous season. Former Montreal coach Claude Julien could appeal to them for that very reason.

    • Galdom:

      $82.23m

      Assumptions:

      Roy: $2m
      Kuzmenko: $1.5m (if available)
      Howden: $1.2m
      Kolesar: $1.2m
      Hague: $1.5m

      Pacioretty/Eichel/Stone
      Marchessault/Karlsson/Kuzmenko
      Carrier/Stephenson/Amadio
      Howden/Roy/Kolesar

      Pietrangelo/Hague
      Theodore/Martinez
      Whitecloud/McNabb

      Lehner
      Thompson

      Morozov
      Leschyshyn
      Brisson

      • For the three scratches rather than all forwards an HSK D can fill in–Miromanov, Hayes or Korczak.

      • Galdom

        Nice lines but I still think an at best average team. 75% of the teams may have the advantage whenever the third or fourth line is on the ice.

        • Pistol Pete

          Average with Stephenson and Roy as 3rd and 4th C? It will depend a lot on the coaching. Morozov and Brisson figure to be depth guys as well. Frankly I don’t see why Howden/Roy/Kolesar can’t be as solid a 4th line as we have ever had. Howden and Roy averaged nearly half a point a game between them last season more than Carrier/Nosek/Reaves ever did. Does not speak to their defense necessarily I realize. Stephenson as 3C is a solid foundation. Morozov and Brisson are possibilities.

          We need Q!

          • Galdom

            You put Karlsson in as a second line center. I can do that too, but that would be embarrassing. It was embarrassing. Unless he is on a 3 year slump he has averaged 14 goals a year for the past three seasons. He sucks!

          • Pistol Pete

            Karlsson’s offensive production may have been impacted by DeBoer’s rigid defensive approach. He could suffer the same fate under Trotz. I am concerned Trotz impeded Barzal. Karlsson needs a Q or Tocchet where he can play more unbridled.

            I think I actually prefer Tocchet over Trotz. His style is more wide open. A great NHL player he was. More of a player’s coach. He does have that gambling controversy, however I guess he overcame it as it predates his coaching at TBL and ARI.

      • From what I understand whoever gets Kuzmenko he will be an entry level contract for the first year. If so, there’s an extra $.75m in my cap.

  26. Galdom

    Don’t know if you guys know this but the Rangers for many years were doing what I fear Vegas may now do which is put lipstick on a pig. They came to the realization after wasting many years that they would have to retool and they sent out a letter to their fans basically warning them of what might be a couple of lean years but that now decisions would be made for the betterment of the future rather than rescuing a single season. This was about four years ago in 2018. Look at them now. This is the model that I want Vegas to follow. Here is the letter that they sent out to the fan base……..

    As a member of the Blueshirt Faithful, we consider you a part of the New York Rangers family, and always want to ensure we share important news about the organization directly with you. Today, we want to talk to you about the future.

    As you know, since the 2005-06 season, we have been a highly competitive team. We have played 129 playoff games, won the Presidents’ Trophy, reached the Conference Finals three times, as well as the Stanley Cup Final. While we’re proud of all those accomplishments – we didn’t reach our ultimate goal of bringing the Stanley Cup back to New York.

    So as we do every season, we have been continuously evaluating our team, looking for areas that can be improved to enhance our chances of winning. We began the process of reshaping our team this past summer, when we traded for assets that we believe will help us in the years to come. As we approach the trade deadline later this month and into the summer, we will be focused on adding young, competitive players that combine speed, skill and character. This may mean we lose some familiar faces, guys we all care about and respect. While this is part of the game, it’s never easy. Our promise to you is that our plans will be guided by our singular commitment: ensuring we are building the foundation for our next Stanley Cup contender.

    There are no fans like Rangers fans. You are passionate, loyal and true. You fill The Garden every night, and we always know there will be a strong showing from RangersTown in every building across the League. We do not take your support for granted. We appreciate that you have always stood by us, and we ask you to remain by our side as we undertake this exciting new chapter filled with promise and change.

    We will keep you informed as this process takes shape. Thank you for the incredible loyalty, pride and respect you show to the New York Rangers, each and every day.

  27. Original 6 ✅

    Now that a stirred the pot all of your thoughts & input have valid points and made for fun reading! Quenneville doses have unfinished business in Florida especially if they get swept. ! the assistant coach can’t compete with cooper but Quenneville did when he beat them in. 2015. I don’t think nobody gets hired till Finals are thru. either way it’s Foley last life line to fix what FO fucked up ! Hope he doesn’t rush it but there’s not many choices to pik from ! I agree Stone is not Capt material also.

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