Canadiens St-Louis Discusses Frustrating Stream Of Injuries
The Montreal Canadiens announced two players had succumbed to injury ahead of Thursday night’s matchup with the New York Rangers.
Rookie defenceman Jordan Harris and veteran forward Christian Dvorak were added to the long list of names at the infirmary. They’re set to be replaced by Kaiden Guhle and Anthony Richard, who was recalled from the Laval Rocket for the second time this season.
As head coach Martin St-Louis met with the media following practice, he was asked whether he felt his lineup was starting to become thin.
“Is it starting?!?!” he interrupted with a wry smile. “It started a long time ago”
As it stands, the Canadiens currently have 14 players out of commission, most of which have been on the mend for several weeks already.
Dvorak and Harris join Chris Wideman, Justin Barron, Joel Armia, Kirby Dach, Brendan Gallagher, Jake Evans, Arber Xhekaj, Juraj Slafkovsky, Cole Caufield, Sean Monahan, Carey Price and Paul Byron on the injured list.
If the Montreal Canadiens stopped playing hockey today it would take the New York Rangers 818 more games to catch them in injuries https://t.co/3CPAdBy7Is pic.twitter.com/CoFN6YlHFn
— Man-Games Lost NHL (@ManGamesLostNHL) February 24, 2023
It would be a difficult situation for any coach, not to mention a coach who is learning on the job and only has a sparse amount of talent to work with.
“I’m gaining a lot of experience,” said St-Louis. “You play the hand you’re dealt. Sometimes cards come and cards go. My job is to prepare the team to play every game and control what I can. I’m starting to get used to it.”
Part of the learning process for St-Louis has centred on protecting players who are driven by good intentions but come to unfortunate decisions regarding their own health.
Guhle, for example, did not want to abandon his team when he was injured during the March 3rd matchup against the Anaheim Ducks.
It should come as no surprise, Guhle will do everything possible to win, and part of that is providing support for his linemates on the ice, but there’s also something to be said about the value of rest.
“Sometimes it’s important to protect the player from the player,” said St-Louis. “There are players who can’t stand missing a shift, and sometimes you have to protect them from themselves because it leads to further injuries.”
It’s a fine balance.
Complete nightmare season of injuries continues…
Looks like Kaiden Guhle just seriously hurt his shoulder. pic.twitter.com/s3NCBDEozS
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) March 4, 2023
Athletes, by nature, will almost always forgo their health for an opportunity to take part in the only thing they’ve known since their childhood: high-level competition.
It’s almost an addiction for some, one that comes to the forefront whenever a player is held out of action for an extended period of time, which has been the case for several injured Canadiens players.
“It’s more important for the injured players than for the team,” explained St-Louis. “It’s difficult to be injured, and it’s tough on mental health to not be included. They need to be part of the team as they’re passing through a difficult stretch. Being left aside is not easy on the mind.”
As the St-Louis and the Canadiens continue to deal with the unfortunate hand they’ve been dealt by the injury gods, it’s become apparent that no level of preparation can turn the remaining players into a competitive lineup.
It’s simply not feasible.
Nor is judging St-Louis’ coaching prowess this season.
He simply has not had an opportunity to coach anything remotely close to a healthy roster.
When Guhle was coming back from his first injury, I mentioned here and other sites that I was concerned with him coming back to soon and increasing the risk for further injury. Then, he got hurt again like 3 games later. So, I’ll restate my concern yet again. I don’t get it. What is the rush to get him back? The season is a wash, a couple more games missed will have absolutely zero impact on his development, but coming back to soon could lead to a far more serious injury, which most certainly could impact his career. Keeping him out longer is win-win imo. He gets to heal properly and we don’t risk further injury, and we also should be weaker as a team, which helps in the battle for Bedard. It doesn’t matter if the players are hard-wired to compete. This should be a management decision where they tell him, “Sorry kid, park it for a couple more games. You should have a long career ahead of you, and we don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.”
Lets look at Juraj Saafkovsky should have been assigned to LAVAL, he could have been playing at least 15 minutes per game, not sitting on the bench at the BELL CENTER he was never ready for the NHL, a POOR management decision, Joel Armia, trade or release him, Paul Byron, trade or buyout Chris Wideman, is a 7th demann in habs roster
I agree on Slafkovsky. I felt he should have been in the AHL (with Mesar btw) to start the season, and then call him up at various times during the year to test his progress. He should have been on the top line there, learning what it takes to be a top line player, not a 4th liner in the NHL.
If Montreal could trade Armia, they’d do it in a heartbeat. There’s just no market for him. The NHL has guaranteed contracts, so we can’t just “release” him. He’d still count towards the cap. Buying out Byron would be a waste. He’s a UFA this summer and will glide off into the sunset free from our books. We used his LTIR all season, so he essentially didn’t exist for us. If we bought him out, we’d have to pay him for the next few years, and he’d count towards the cap (just like Alzner still is, if you can believe it!). Wideman has been used as a 7th Dman pretty much all season. He’s only been playing because of injuries to Xhekaj, Guhle and now Harris. He’s even been injured himself and out for a bit here and there. He’s not blocking the path for anyone. I was a little surprised he didn’t get traded at the deadline. He’s on a very cheap contract, provides some offense, have PP capabilities, and is great in the dressing room. He would have been a good choice for some cheap insurance for a playoff team.