LA Kings Sean Walker

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LA Kings defenseman Sean Walker missed only nine games after taking a slapshot to the face from Matt Dumba. He reflects on the injury.

In what was one of the more memorable — or forgettable depending on who you are — moments of the abbreviated 2021 schedule, LA Kings defenseman Sean Walker took a slapshot to the face off the stick of Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba in late January.

Walker skated off with the aid of the team’s trainer with a towel held closely to his face, marking the second defenseman lost to injury during that game. If you recall, Matt Roy was boarded by Kevin Fiala earlier in the contest, leaving the Kings scrambling to find bodies along the blueline.

Walker, 26, is entering his fourth season in the NHL, and he recently spoke with Dave McCarthy on Sirius XM NHL Network Radio, reflecting on the injury and the recovery.

“First off, I gotta tip my hat to the training staff and the surgeons and everybody that did take care of me,” Walker noted. “They did obviously an amazing job, and you can’t tell right now, but my face is definitely a lot better than it was in that picture. But yeah, it was pretty rough.”

While Matt Roy remained in Minnesota until he was cleared to travel, Walker traveled home with the team and shared the damage to his face via social media (I won’t show it again here).

“Once we got back there and I saw Kinger [Kings’ head athletic trainer Chris Kingsley], he explained that it was going to be more orbital bone for sure as well, so it required surgery,” the Kings defenseman explained. “I went into surgery, [and] that was supposed to be only about a two-hour surgery, and by the time he went in, he realized it was so shattered — the orbital bone — it took him about five hours to put everything back together. So yeah, it was a lot of surgery and everything, but then after that, the recovery was pretty quick.”

Walker noted that he just had to manage the swelling while easing back into a gym routine to return to play. In all, the 26-year-old missed just nine games, and he returned with a full cage for about a month. Once the cage came off, Walker’s offensive game seemed to take a leap forward, as the Keswick, Ont., native finished with seven points in the final six games and conveying more puck-moving skills that we’ve become accustomed to seeing from him.

“It was a pretty whirlwind ride from start to finish, but it could have been a lot worse, and I’m very thankful that it wasn’t,” he concluded.

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