Injuries happen in hockey, they’re a reality of the sport. But sometimes, teams just get absolutely ravaged by injuries, and the Montreal Canadiens have fallen into that category for two years in a row.
Last season, Carey Price and captain Shea Weber were both out the entire year, and COVID and other injuries decimated the roster? This year? We have so many players out for the season that the roster is basically Nick Suzuki and call-ups from the Laval Rocket, the Habs’ AHL affiliate.
Juraj Slafkovsky, the first overall pick, out for the season. Cole Caufield, the best goal-scorer on the team (even now, after missing plenty of games), out for the season. Kaiden Guhle, our best rookie defenseman? Out for the season. Arber Xhekaj, our best physical presence? Josh Anderson, one of our top six forwards? Out for the season. Sean Monahan, Christian Dvorak, Alex Belzile, David Savard? Out for the season, times four. This doesn’t even cover guys like Price and Paul Byron, who were out from the start, and guys like Brendan Gallagher, Mike Matheson and Kirby Dach, who have been injured multiple times this year.
There are two players this season that have played over seventy games for the Habs. One of them is rookie defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic, the other is Nick Suzuki, who has never missed a game in his NHL career and is on one of the longest iron man streaks in the league.
Why are the Habs so disproportionately affected by this? Is the team allowing players to play through their injury struggles, only exacerbating the issues? Is the medical staff failing to treat them correctly? Obviously, we don’t know for sure, but I hope that during the off-season, the Canadiens’ management team takes a long look at how injured players are treated and works hard to find a solution. The future looks bright for the organization, but we can’t win a Cup if our best players are in the hospital instead of on the ice.