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Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens Management Gives Insight On Handling Of Injuries



Canadiens Kent Hughes

The endless stream of injuries that ravaged the Montreal Canadiens roster was the topic du jour at the end-of-the-season press conference hosted by general manager Kent Hughes.

Health is always a touchy subject, especially since there’s privacy to be considered, but there’s no denying the popularity of the infirmary this season raised a lot of legitimate questions regarding the Canadiens’ handling of the many injuries.

Brendan Gallagher, for example, returned to play despite not having healed his broken ankle, which, unsurprisingly, led to another broken ankle.

Sean Monahan also worsened an existing injury, which eventually led to the 28-year-old being shut down for the season, and thus, not being available for a potential return at the 2023 Trade Deadline.

Hughes acquiesced on the topic, to a certain degree, admitting the team can and should do a better job protecting their players in the future.

However, when it comes to players like Gallagher, it’s not always easy to get a good read on the situation according to Hughes.

“A lot of times, it’s the player,” said Hughes. “You’re talking about one of our tougher players. If he thought he broke it, he likely would have told us. You’d be surprised about how many guys get hurt and don’t tell you right away. We are mindful of the process and we’re going to look into it. I believe luck wasn’t on our side, but the number of injuries was high.”

It wasn’t just high.

For the second year in a row, the Canadiens led all teams in man-games lost, and by a rather wide margin, too.

“Sometimes we have to do a better job of protecting them from themselves,” admitted Hughes. “Sometimes a player blocks a shot and there are no visual cues of them experiencing pain. There are guys that play, like Sean (Monahan), with a fractured foot. We all knew he had a fractured foot, and Martin St-Louis once played through a similar injury. I don’t want to leave the impression that it’s half-hazard or with no forethought. But, if we don’t find a way to improve what’s going on from a medical standpoint, we’ll never build a winner here. It’s definitely top of mind.”

Whether head coach Martin St-Louis played on a fractured foot or not is irrelevant, seeing as his playing career is well behind him.

Or, at the very least, it’s a poignant reminder that standards in the NHL absolutely need to be improved if employers are to ensure a safe workplace for their employees.

But there are limits to the transparency involved in the medical updates provided to the media, limits that simply cannot be pushed, even if they lead to rumours throughout the NHL.

“When you have an injury like Sean Monahan, and the interest of the team is involved, we can’t openly divulge that information,” explained Hughes. “I’m not worried about rumours, I use my phone to do that. I’m not worried that it will create some misinformation from rival GMs.”

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