Suspensions, fines and comebacks

And finally, we are pleased for youngster Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks, whose chance at a rookie of the year award and a spot on the Czech Olympic team was dashed with a serious knee injury back in mid-December. He returned without missing a beat in spite of the four-month layoff and had two goals and two assists in the first four games against the Kings. I chatted with Hertl in San Jose just before he suffered the injury and, while shy, he talked with great excitement about getting his driver's license and how helpful countryman Martin Havlat had been both in the dressing room and outside the hockey world in easing his transition to the NHL game. Right from the get-go, Sharks coach Todd McLellan has had terrific confidence in the talented winger, playing him with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns early in the season. Hertl has played a different role to start the playoffs, lining up on the Sharks' effective third line with Tommy Wingels and James Sheppard, although he also has played some with Thornton and Burns. The ripple effect of having Hertl back in the lineup is obvious, as McLellan has the luxury of using Joe Pavelski at either center or wing, which makes the Sharks especially hard to defend. Just ask theĀ  Los Angeles Kings.

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