Saturday, July 13, 2024

Ducks’ Justin Kirkland released from hospital one day after car accident

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IRVINE — The best news concerning the Ducks took place away from the rink as forward Justin Kirkland was released from the hospital Monday evening.

The 26-year-old forward was taken to UCI Health after being involved in a car accident Sunday in Orange County en route to the Ducks’ game against the Boston Bruins at Honda Center. The Ducks said he had full mobility and has been communicating with family and teammates.

“He’s been released. He’s in good spirits,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said Tuesday. “Obviously, the timing of that the other night definitely put a good scare into all of us. And at the same time, reinforced a lot of things that we speak of here – not about hockey – being grateful to try and win the day with our relationships at home. You just never know when you could find yourself in a terrible, terrible situation.”

Jayson Megna, one of Kirkland’s linemates, said he spoke to Kirkland.

“My goodness – so scary,” Megna said. “It’s the first time in my career that someone on the way to the rink has gotten into a car accident. It sounds like he is doing a lot better. I’m definitely thinking about him and hoping for the best for him.”

The accident occurred about 2:30 p.m. on Sunday and involved two vehicles, Kirkland’s truck and a Toyota Highlander SUV, according to officers.

Kirkland’s black GMC Sierra pickup was stopped in the left lane of the transition road from the northbound 55 Freeway to the northbound 5 Freeway, according to the California Highway Patrol Officer Ken Yoon, who spoke to the two investigating officers.

The officers said a motorist saw Kirkland’s truck and thought he may be having mechanical issues, so the motorist stopped behind Kirkland’s truck and put on their hazard lights. When the motorist got out and attempted to talk to Kirkland, the truck rapidly accelerated and sideswiped the SUV in the right lane, causing the SUV to spin out and wound up facing the wrong direction in the left lane of the transition road.

Kirkland’s truck continued to accelerate down the transition road, onto the 5 Freeway. The truck then cut across all the lanes to the left before hitting the center median. His injuries were characterized as moderate, according to the officers.

The CHP is still investigating whether Kirkland’s truck may have had mechanical issues.

No practice for Zegras

Trevor Zegras, the Ducks’ second-leading scorer, was not at practice Tuesday because of an illness. Zegras is one of seven Ducks to have played in all 41 games this season. It was unclear if it was the same issue that kept defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk out of the lineup Friday against the San Jose Sharks.

“It sounds very similar so we’ll see where that goes,” Eakins said. “We’ll just have to re-evaluate it in the morning and see if he is available or not.”

Jones returns

Forward Max Jones participated in his first full practice since his back seized up on him during pregame warmups Dec. 13 in Toronto, which led to a last-minute scratch from the lineup.

“He hasn’t played in a long time here,” Eakins said. “The biggest thing for him will be the rhythm of the game, trying not to do too much. We’ll try to control his ice time the best we can but (his) game.”

Long stretches out of the lineup are not new for Jones. He missed almost all of last season with a torn chest muscle.

“Unfortunately he has great experience in this,” Eakins said. “I know he’s excited to get back and we’re excited to have him back. Now he’s got to get to his game as fast as possible.”


When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Honda Center

TV: Bally Sports SoCal

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