San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton played four postseason games with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn medial collateral ligament, and he had surgery Monday to repair his left knee.
Sharks coach Peter DeBoer announced the extent of Thornton's injury on Monday, and later in the day general manager Doug Wilson said the 37-year-old forward was scheduled for surgery Monday afternoon.
Thornton was injured on April 2 in a game against the Vancouver Canucks. He missed the rest of the regular season and the first two games of the Sharks' first-round playoff series against Edmonton. However, Thornton returned for Game 3 and played the final four games of the six-game series won by the Oilers.
"I've been in this business a long time," Wilson said. "You see a player play with that type of injury tells you all you need to know about him."
Thornton had two assists and averaged 18:50 of ice time in the four postseason games he played.
Thornton spoke to the media before DeBoer revealed the severity of the injury, and Thornton downplayed the problem, calling it "the normal stuff that hockey players deal with."
"It was just unfortunate, the time of the year," Thornton said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "That it happened three games before the end of the season and the playoffs, you got to deal with something like that.
"Hockey players are a different breed. There's probably five or six guys that had to deal with different stuff. But it is what it is. I'll go get it checked out today and go from there."
Thornton becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and the injury and resulting surgery complicate things. ACL surgery typically requires about six months of recovery time, which mean Thornton might be ready to return to action when the 2017-18 season begins.
Thornton, who won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player in 2006, just finished his 20th NHL season, and he had seven goals and 43 assists in 79 regular-season games this season.
Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, who also become an unrestricted free agent this summer, said he played the series with a broken left thumb, although he will not need surgery.