Boeser was injured during a game against the New York Islanders on March 5 when he hit his back against an open bench door and broke a transverse process, a spur that projects off the side of each vertebrae. The 21-year-old injured his wrist Feb. 8, which required platelet-rich plasma injections and four weeks of immobilization.
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“At first I couldn’t really move my left leg, so I was laying there on the ice and just didn’t move because I didn’t know what I hurt, if it was my pelvis,” Boeser said of his transverse injury. “I didn’t even know it was my back at first, honestly. I started to get a little panicky there laying on my stomach, so I had to flip over. I had to flip over to my back or else I was going to have a panic attack. It was the worst pain probably I’ve ever had.
“It was pretty painful in [the locker room] trying to get my gear off and cut everything off, so that wasn’t fun. Got me on a stretcher and wheeled me to the ambulance and I just remember hitting a few bumps and remembering how bad that hurt, so I knew something was pretty badly wrong. For the next 4-5 days I couldn’t really walk, other than to go to the bathroom, so it wasn’t too much fun. But I’m just lucky it wasn’t worse than it was.”
Boeser led NHL rookies with 29 goals at the time he injured his back and missed the final 16 games. Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor ended up leading rookies with 31 goals; Boeser finished second.
Boeser was fifth in points (55) and first in power-play goals (10) among rookies and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL rookie of the year. He finished second in the voting to New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal.
Boeser had many highlights during his rookie season.
“Scoring my first NHL hat trick (Nov. 4 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins) to not just me, but seeing [forwards Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin’s] last home game,” he said. “Obviously the NHL All-Star Game and being the MVP was really something special there for my family and I, so there’s some good moments, but I couldn’t have had those moments without my teammates.”
Boeser said he learned a lot from the Sedins, who retired after 17 seasons.
“The people they are,” he said. “How kind and respectful they are to everyone, how hard they work in the gym and on the ice, that’s every single day. What they do in the community. It was something really special and I’m just excited I got to share a locker room with them for one year.”
The Canucks finished 14th in the Western Conference last season (31-40-11, 73 points), 22 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.