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Kings’ Jeff Carter undergoes surgery to repair a core muscle injury

Kings forward Jeff Carter plays against the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 31 at Staples Center.
Kings forward Jeff Carter plays against the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 31 at Staples Center.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Kings forward Jeff Carter underwent successful surgery to repair a core muscle injury last week and is expected to recover in time for the start of next season, the team announced Tuesday.

Carter, 35, was hurt in late February and missed the Kings’ final 10 games before the NHL season was suspended on March 12 because of the coronavirus crisis. Even if the Kings’ season — which officially ended last month when they were excluded from the NHL’s 24-team restart plan because of their bottom-seven placement in the standings — had continued this summer, Carter wasn’t expected to return.

Los Angeles is one of 10 cities being considered a hub for the NHL’s return. L.A. has held many big events at Staples Center, but its bid is a longshot.

Carter remained in Southern California during the season stoppage and underwent his procedure last Thursday. Because of the schedule delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, next season might not begin until December or early January, potentially giving Carter almost six months to recover.

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Before being sidelined, Carter was having a bounce-back campaign in 2019-20. In 60 games, he collected 17 goals (tied for third-most on the team) and 27 points. Seven of those goals were game-winners, including a go-ahead deflection late in the third period of his 1,000th career game on Nov. 16.

The NHL has made strides to battle racism in the sport, but incidents this season illustrate that a lot of work still needs to be done.

“I’ve stuck to what got me to where I am,” Carter said that night. “That’s straight lines and trying to work hard every day. Not straying from my path.”

Carter has battled back from serious injuries before, including a torn ankle tendon three years ago that cost him most of the 2017-18 season (when he tallied 22 points in only 27 games) and hampered him in 2018-19 (when his 33 points were the lowest in any season he played at least 70 games).

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Before that, Carter recorded at least 60 points in eight of his first 13 NHL seasons and played a key role in both of the Kings’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2012 and 2014.

Carter still has two years remaining on his contract. His annual salary cap hit is almost $5.3 million, according to CapFriendly, fifth-highest on the Kings.


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