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‘Nice to have him back’: Golden Knights captain cleared to practice

Updated April 12, 2024 - 7:37 pm

Golden Knights captain Mark Stone stepped onto the ice, took two strides in a red sweater and heard cheers from fans at City National Arena.

Consider right wing Keegan Kolesar a little salty.

“I was kind of pissed I don’t get a standing ovation when I walk on the ice,” Kolesar said jokingly. “I see how the fan base is with that.”

Stone surprisingly was cleared for practice as he recovers from a lacerated spleen and joined the Knights in a noncontact jersey for their morning skate Friday.

The 31-year-old has not played since Feb. 20 against the Nashville Predators when a hit in the second period knocked him out for the rest of the game.

General manager Kelly McCrimmon confirmed March 8 that Stone suffered the internal injury and would miss the rest of the regular season.

McCrimmon did not commit at the time to Stone being ready for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but was hopeful he would return at some point.

That time appears to be now.

The regular season ends Thursday, and the playoffs start April 20. The Knights are close to clinching their sixth playoff spot in seven seasons.

“He’ll need to get clearance for his injury, and we’ll see how it plays out down the road, but it’s nice to have him back out there,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.

Because he is still on injured reserve, Stone was not made available to the media.

It’s the third straight season Stone has missed significant time because of injury.

The past two seasons involved his twice surgically repaired back. He played 37 games in the 2021-22 season and 43 last season.

Stone returned to practice one week before the playoffs last season and was in the lineup for the first round against the Winnipeg Jets. He played in all 22 playoff games.

Stone was having one of the best seasons of his career with 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists) in 56 games before the injury.

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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