Blackhawks forward Jujhar Khaira underwent successful surgery on his lower back on Tuesday, the team announced before practice on Wednesday. He's expected to miss roughly 10-12 weeks, which likely ends his season.
Khaira has been out of the lineup since Jan. 17 with what the Blackhawks originally called "lower back soreness." He was moved from injured reserve to long-term injured reserve on Feb. 18.
Last week, interim head coach Derek King said Khaira was seeking different medical opinions and running some more tests. But the decision to eventually get surgery seemed inevitable.
"Yeah, you kind of know it as a coach, or even as a player, right?" King said. "You’re just trying to fight it off, hopefully there’s something where it’s, ‘he’s going to be OK, he’ll be back in a week.’ But as you prolong it and he gets a second and third opinion to make sure, and then this is what they came up with. It’s too bad. Obviously right now, we could use a body like that. But he’s got to do the right thing."
Khaira, 27, is in the first year of a two-year contract that carries a $975,000 cap hit. He has three goals and 88 hits in 27 games for the Blackhawks this season.
Overall, it's been a tough season for Khaira, who's been in and out of the lineup for multiple different reasons: COVID-19 protocol, concussion protocol, a non-COVID-illness and now a lower back injury.
"It’s obviously not the year he wanted," King said. "We’re a much better team with him in the lineup, the way he plays. But, sometimes these things happen and you've got to deal with them. He’ll deal with it the right way and we’ll get him ready for next year."
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