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Q&A With Dr. Pinegar On Mark Stone’s Second Back Surgery

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Earlier this week in Denver, Mark Stone underwent his second back surgery in the span of less than nine months. The Golden Knights called the surgery successful and said Stone will be out indefinitely but is expected to make a full recovery.

Questions surrounding his health impact the team both in the short term and the long term yet there aren’t many answers to be had on a complicated situation. To help guide us through the most likely scenarios and outcomes regarding an athlete’s recovery from multiple back surgeries, we turn to our resident doctor, Dr. Caleb Pinegar of Crovetti Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.

When you hear the term indefinitely in relation to a second back surgery, how does that read to you?

I think they’ve given up on this season and I think they are just looking at next season. I think they are just saying, “hey look, not happening right now.” They do use that term loosely, but with the surgery he had, it can’t be less than three months.

So you don’t think there’s much chance he plays again this regular or postseason?

Long shot.

There was a report from ESPN’s Emily Kaplan that this injury is a different back injury. When it’s described that way, do you think it means they are completely unrelated or just different areas of his back?

Your lumbar spine has five vertebrae. On the first injury, one of them was the symptomatic area. As we’ve discussed, once a person undergoes one surgery they become more susceptible to future issues on other levels. On his first surgery, the microdiscectomy, they probably just fixed that one spot. It sounds like now there’s an issue in a different spot and he likely had a different procedure. While it’s a similar surgery they might call it a different injury because each level affects a different part of the leg. That being said, they are almost certainly related to each other.

How many different back procedures are there that he could have undergone?

There are really not many and they all do the same thing just on different levels of the spine. You can decompress the root on the right, left, or center, which is removing pieces of disc material that is pinching on the nerve to the side or out the back of the space between the vertebra. Otherwise, if it were more serious, he could have had a laminectomy. That’s where you remove a large chunk of bone.

How do the recovery times vary on each different option?

It’s a bit longer on the laminectomy, but the other ones are all pretty similar.

And how long are we talking?

It should be similar to his previous surgery unless he had the laminectomy, in which case it would be much longer. It should be around three to four months.

Does this being his second surgery affect the recovery time on the next one?

It shouldn’t. As long as he rehabbed the one before and this is a different surgery, then no it shouldn’t. But, it makes me worry about all of the other levels. It seems possible his MRI shows he has mild to moderate degeneration of multiple discs and he just had severe enough symptoms last year and now severe enough in a different spot this year. What’s going to change to be severe enough next year? That’s worrisome.

So do you think it’s possible he’s been advised to stop playing hockey?

Probably not at that point. A simple low back disc herniation only puts a persons nerve in severe compromise in a very specific circumstance. These are not life-threatening injuries. But they can be career ending and they can frequently be quite painful and debilitating.

When does that point come?

The big question I have now is if he tweaks his back again, do they encourage him to hang it up? Because you don’t want to put a young guy through three back surgeries. If he tweaks it again, maybe they rehab it real well and say, “Mark, are you done?” He’s such a fun animated player and such an amazing part of the team, it’s so hard to see him going through this. And it’s also terrible to think, is this going to be a push to the end for him, it makes me worry.

When does that conversation about long-term lifestyle happen? Has it already?

I think it happens during his rehab. I don’t think they’ll push him to come back this year, at all. You’re going to rehab him really well and you have lots of time. Then at the conclusion of this you will say “Mark, do you really want to do this again next season?” And I’ll think he’ll have a real hard talk about it.

Stone’s second surgery was done by a different doctor than the first, how common is that, and does it indicate issues with the first surgeon?

Typically after visiting with the initial surgeon if the athlete wants other options they will seek out a second opinion. And most surgeons are happy to offer options so that the athlete is comfortable. After that second opinion and explaining the options, the athlete may prefer that the second specialist perform the operation instead. Perhaps something wasn’t done properly, or there is a more complicated problem than anticipated, or now due to additional injury there is simply more to do! The surgeons primary interest should be helping the athlete/patient get the proper help, regardless of who does it. 

Do you think we see peak Mark Stone again in his career?

I would anticipate you seeing them limit him and protect him more. It’s like LeBron James, you can’t give him that many minutes if you want him to be healthy. You’ve got to hold him back. When he’s in, he absolutely can be great, but you have to protect him more. I worry though that he may never fully be the same again, I really do worry about it.

No matter who you are, professional athlete or regular Joe, once you’ve tweaked your back, you forever have to pay super careful attention to how you address any substantial use of your back for the rest of your life because your susceptibility is higher. We were worried Mark would have to deal with this in a couple to a few years and it’s not even a year later. At some point, you really have to consider the long-term lifestyle of the person.


**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 and Summerlin. Read more about him and the practice here.**


Twitter Space – Fallout From Mark Stone’s 2nd Surgery


Assessing Blame For Golden Knights Latest Skid


  1. Carl

    I’m gonna cut right to the chase: Mark Stone’s back is f*cked and his career is all downhill – fast. Move over, Shea Weber, you got company.

    • Michaela

      Totally agree with you, honestly don’t see him coming back, once your back is fucked up, that’s it, he should worry about just being able to live as normal as possible, forget about playing hockey professionally, very sad for him, hopefully he can live pain free

    • While it would be nice to be optimistic his back issue is reality and isn’t going to get better. Having gone thru back surgeries while it works I initially ultimately you land up in the same place and it’s not good. While l am sure he would love to play again the smart thing for him to do so he has some quality of life in the future is hang up the skates as sad as that sounds. He’s a young guy and doesn’t need to prove anything. Time to be smart.

    • michael

      ur a clueless moron I’ll cut right to the chase!

  2. TS

    A big thanks to the good doctor for explaining so well. The pain Stone must have endured the last couple years is IMMENSE. I just want to see him WHOLE again. Feeling free of that nerve pain. Hockey will have to wait, and if Stone decides to save his back and retire, Real VGK fans will understand. And we’ll always appreciate what he brought to our team.

    • Carl

      It’s painful to think Stone could be finished, but you’ve got the right take on it. Better to save what’s left of his back for the next 50 years than to risk potentially devastating injury if he plays even a few more games.

      • TS

        Carl, I do think so. We see so many athletes of all sports who hang on too long, getting hammered physically, and are BROKEN the rest of their lives. Wouldn’t wish that on Stone.

  3. Pistol Pete

    I think there is a good chance Management views his career as over or at least with the chance of it they should move. They must acquire Meier no matter what it costs in picks. Stephenson-Eichel-Meirer should be a way good enough top line to get the VGK into the postseason. They might even win the West. This would cost picks but they should be able to stay under the cap even if they have to trade Hague to do it . Worry about Lehner during the off-season. Worst case Foley buys him out.

    • Dean

      This team is not winning a Cup even if they added Meier and trading for him would only hurt our future. We have a lack of prospects and draft picks as it is and and the next 5-6 years are going to be tough as a result. Depleting it even further may make it a long decade of hockey in Vegas.

      • THE hockey GOD

        @ Dean ” I WANT TO WIN A CUP”
        and “I WANT TO WIn IT noW!!!” is just plain WRONG

        (tJG Wentworth song is sticking in my brain right now)

        • It’s not going to happen Mr. Foley – you have proven once again the Cup can’t be purchased. It was a bold move on your part and brought vegas to its feet however the probability of success was slim to none and none won out. Interesting your best shot was before all the tweets your front office went on and the initial team had what was necessary to win, attitude and something to prove – unfortunately came up a little short. Beaten by a team that had waited for 34 years to hoist the Cup.

          • THE hockey GOD

            maybe next time get an owner that knows something about hockey, and running a successful sports enterprise, instead of grape stomper from TeXa$$

    • Good While It Lasted

      It’s over. Pray that Stone can live a somewhat normal life. Vegas has nothing to give the Sharks other than their picks. Their prospect pool is one of the worst in the league and even with one good line they won’t win a cup.
      Vegas had a good run, now their fans can go back to hating hockey.

  4. THE hockey GOD

    adding Bertuzzi would fit in nicely with the theme of getting players to continuously go on the IR

  5. THE hockey GOD

    so Cassidy over pushed the guy, and he gets hurt again.

    He should go to far eastern orient practitioner, where they put these
    little needles in your back , spine area. You can’t fell them. But they keep
    the back and spine from crunching. I think it’s called >>>>

    Acupuncture – Mayo Clinic
    acupuncture from mayo clinic
    Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. A key component of traditional Chinese medicine,

    Dr TaoCho Tsing Howard
    Dr Lā lǐ Fine
    Dr 萌 Méng Howard
    Dr 卷曲 Juǎnqū Howard
    Dr 绵羊 Miányáng Howard


    Gèng duō miánhuā !!

    • JV

      I tried acturpuncture for back pain. Didn’t help much. The recovery time was the same if I had just took oxy for the pain.

      • THE hockey GOD

        i hear ya, an old time ex co worker had really bad back issues. He was on oXY , but they cut back his dosage and prescription re fill times. So he opted for
        the ganji. He can’t get out out of bed without a lot of pain, spends most of time in bed watching reruns of on GET and ME TV.

  6. JV

    My back has been a pretzel for a long time, so I feel for Stone. I think he is done. Hope he seriously considers just being able to walk around pain-free, because I don’t and I don’t play hockey.

  7. Richie-Rich

    I called this last year. I was hopefully optimistic when he came back and did so well early in the season, but was keeping my fingers crossed. At this level, a back injury is going to be very difficult to deal with. Maybe if Mark was younger he’d have a better chance to recover and play at a very high level with no reduction in ice time.

    But, now the reality is that he won’t be able to produce at that level or have the amount of TOI to warrant his $9,500,000 per year salary. That’s a lot of dough for Foley to have to pay through the 2026-2027 season!

    Foley has to be looking at how the average age of this roster has grown since McCrimmon took over the GM role. Eichel is clearly a bust in my mind, Lehner another bust. Foley’s eating Weber’s contract as well.

    The writing is pretty much on the wall. If I’m Foley, and clearly I am not, I’m firing McCrimmon and getting in a GM to build a competitor from the ground up. That means a fire sale by the trade deadline with Eichel as the big shiny piece to bring in the bidders who think they have a shot this year.

    It’s time to start looking at a long term rebuild under Cassidy, 2-5 years with Thompson in goal. There’s only a few VGK players that I would put off limits. Cotter, Carrier, Marchy, Petro, Theodore, Whitecloud, Roy, Kolesar and Thompson are on my short list to keep. Petro is getting long in the tooth but he puts in a lot of time on ice and is a solid defender who can score. You give Petro the “C”.

    With Eichel, you look for 2 young and upcoming forwards and a bunch of picks.

    I know I’m not wrong. Many of you are probably still thinking this team has a shot at the Cup. If they stand pat it is possible they might make the playoffs but the trajectory is looking more like a 5th place finish and a repeat of last year.

    • dc

      Two up and coming Forwards like Tuch and Krebs?!

      • TS

        DC, Yup, we need a rewind on that trade, dang it!!

      • Richie-Rich

        Let’s just point out the fact that Krebs has 13 points this season to Amadio’s 12points. Cost is about the same, but here is the HUGE difference.

        Amadio 27
        Krebs 22

        I would offer that McCrimmon gave up on Krebs way too early. Krebs was a keeper as was Suzuki and other great prospects that McIdiot shipped out in search of shiny OLD toys.

    • Pistol Pete

      This team should make the playoffs if they procure a RW who can skate and play with Eichel. A big body who can get inside and snipe from anywhere. Timo Meirer fits the bill and SJ might be interested in a Shea Theodore trade which should cost no picks. Make the playoffs is important $ for the owner. Build the roster around Eichel, Meier and Petro. Misfits still viable and bottom six is manageable. Why scuttle a roster that can make the postseason for seasons to come? Would make absolutely no sense to start over. None. Develop the prospects they have and look to this year’s draft and beyond.

    • Pistol Pete

      R-R I’d like to see your plan for a rebuild in detail. Who gets sold and the new roster. Roster would consist of the players not sold and say xxx as the new unknowns. I mean to begin with, who would be the top line center? As you’ll read below I do not think a rebuild is the way to go. It would be crazy in fact. Just nuts.

      • Richie-Rich

        PP – This is my Fire Sale LineUp to end the season…..I have starred players I would also trade for prospects with a *. If I get the right price I definitely sell Eichel and dump that $10,000,000 anchor. It’s a NMC contract and I think it will be difficult to find a buyer. I think line 3 deserves a lot more ice time. I would have to have SinBin check the stats, but I believe that line has produced quite a few more danger chances at 5v5 than any other line. Could be wrong.

        I hate to say this but if there is going to be a sale the Misfits just might have to have price tags on them.

        1 Carrier, Eichel*/Stephenson, Marchy*
        2 Smith*, Karlsson*, Kessel*
        3 Cotter, Roy, Kolesar
        4 HSK, Howden*/HSK, Amadio*/HSK

        1 Petro/Martinez*
        2 Whitecloud/Theodore
        3 Hague/McNabb*/Korzak/Pachal

        Aiden/Brossoit or Hill

  8. Pistol Pete

    I would definitely not call Eichel a bust. For one thing do we really want to go back to the era when 1C was Stephenson and Stastny before him. Paul is a good player but not a 1C in any expert’s book. Management had it right when they said a 1C was missing from the roster. Was Eichel the right move at $10m? No, I would say $10m was overpriced however it may still work out. I am not here to make excuses for Jack. One point in the last 8 games is horrible. Hopefully he is 100% healthy. Those are exactly the 8 games Stone has been out which while it does not rationalize the poor performance is probably more than a coincidence. Eichel is the kind of top line C that needs at least one top line winger to support him. With Stone gone he does not have it. As for his performance this year he was 3 pts over a point a game before the slump and now sits 4 under (34 pts in 38 games) which is still decent. Nowhere to go but up hopefully. His 25 pts in 34 games at the end of last season was decent for a guy who had not played in 11 mo. and played with a broken thumb down the stretch. He needs at least one top line winger. A player like Timo Meirer. A big bodied sniper who will get inside like Jack.

    • Pistol Pete

      When Jack was out the team went 7-3-1 with Stone playing. With Stone out and Eichel playing the team went 1-6-1. I’m not here to make excuses for Eichel that is not good. I do think it’s possible Eichel as a top line C needs a top line winger more than Stone needs a top line C and he has done decent with Stephenson as C historically. Anyways, possibly different dynamics as players, Stone compared to Eichel.

    • Pistol Pete – if Eichel is that deficient without a top winger maybe it’s time to unload his 10 mill contract. Of course that’s assuming they could find a suitor interested in a liability. He is a good player not elite and definitely not worth 10 mil. Sorry. I said day one vegas would live to regret that trade – however they don’t have the balls to admit yet another mistake.

      • Richie-Rich

        This team gave up on a 21 year old kid with a lot of promise – Peyton Krebs and fielded a 27 year old Amadio. Krebs in 2022-2023 has 13 points, Amadio 12 points.

        Amadio – no upside.

      • Pistol Pete

        Hdbiker we agree $10m was high for Eichel however it may yet work out. I don’t think any 1C will be productive playing with two passengers. Look around at the top line of all the top contenders. You will see they are all first line players injuries notwithstanding. Stephenson-Eichel-Stone was something Cotter-Eichel-Amadio is ridiculous. Maybe Eichel is not 100% either which does not bode well. I admit thinking Eichel starts to click with Meier to his right IS wishful thinking but no bonafide NHL expert would have a top center playing with two passengers. It’s nuts.

  9. Duckboy

    Most likely best case scenario for stone is to recover to a 3rd line player to “protect” him.

    This will be a huge weight on the future builds of this team not to mention risk to stone’s well being in the long term.

    They should push him to retire.

    Lots of “‘move eichel” comments. These are forum fantasies. He has proven himself thus far to be a 10 mil support player who is only good when everything is great. Even if he waives his no move, the trade market isn’t paying much for this.

    Rebuild should be coming and it’s going to suck. Only worse if we trade for someone this year.

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