The Chicago Blackhawks announced on Friday afternoon that forward Tyler Johnson has undergone successful neck surgery and will be out a minimum of three months.
Johnson, who had missed the Blackhawks' previous 14 games due to this neck ailment, had been trying to "conservatively manage the pain" over the past few weeks in an attempt to avoid surgery, but it was ultimately too much to bear.
According to a statement from Johnson's surgeon, the prognosis is good.
Interestingly, the procedure that Johnson underwent is that of an Artificial Disc Replacement, making him the second NHL player to ever have this specific surgery performed on them while they were still playing. The first is Jack Eichel, who underwent it earlier this season, only thanks to a months-long campaign against the Buffalo Sabres, who repeatedly denied him the right to choose this surgery, which ultimately resulted in a trade.
Clearly, Eichel's efforts to gain autonomy over his own health has made quite an impact league-wide. By all accounts, Eichel is progressing very well since his disk replacement on Nov. 12, and was even spotted back skating on Thursday less than a month after going under the knife.
It's highly unlikely that the Blackhawks would have allowed Johnson to opt for such a risky procedure without Eichel standing as an example of the benefits it could bring.
Hopefully, this marks the first step in granting NHLers the right to make decisions that concern their own bodies.