Curran returning to Reign, Johnston released.

Chris Curran, who won over fans with his hustle and grit before seeing his season end early in a grisly end-board collision, has re-signed with the Reign.

The 5-foot-11, 188-pound winger had eight goals and 17 points in 60 games during the Reign’s inaugural season. Among the team’s best fighters and penalty killers, Curran led the team with 121 penalty minutes and was second with a plus-5 rating.

Curran’s absence was felt during the playoffs after he broke his right leg in the final game of the regular season. Chasing down a puck 1-on-1 against a Bakersfield Condors forward, Curran crashed into an end board leg-first, and left Rabobank Arena on a stretcher. The injury required surgery and Curran has spent most of this summer rehabilitating. He hopes to return “sometime around late November or December.”

Coach Karl Taylor said that Curran will not count against the team’s salary cap until he’s healthy to play. In spite of the injury, there was no hesitation re-signing Curran, whom Taylor called a “secret weapon.”

“He’ll be here as long as I’m here,” Taylor said Tuesday night during a Q&A with fans in Rancho Cucamonga.

The announcement of Curran’s signing comes on the same day the Reign released Denny Johnston, another of the team’s best defensive forwards last season. Johnston has elected to attend medical school at the University of Saskatchewan.

Curran joins nine others who are confirmed to be re-joining the Reign: forwards Jon Rheault, Doug Spooner, Todd Jackson, Tim Kraus, Jon Francisco, Geoff Walker, and defensemen Chad Starling, David Walker and Shawn Germain. The team has also added forwards Dan Leslie, Robert Pearce, Brian Matte, Tyler Mugford, Peter Lenes and defenseman Brian Kilburg.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.