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Montreal Canadiens

Oft-Injured Montreal Canadiens Fire Medical Personnel



Canadiens former therapist Graham Rynbend

The Montreal Canadiens have a health crisis, so to speak.

The team finished as the NHL’s leader in man-games lost last season, the second consecutive season in which they ranked as the unhealthiest team in the league.

It was a hot topic throughout the year, particularly at the end-of-season press conference by general manager Kent Huges.

“We could have all the greatest plans in the world,” said Hughes. “But if we don’t find a way to improve what’s going on from a medical standpoint, we will never build a winner.”

The team has proceeded to fire two of their longtime employees, Head Athletic Therapist Graham Rynbend and Head Physiotherapist Donald Balmforth. The firings were first reported by Tony Marinaro.

Rynbend had been with the team for well over 20 years, starting as an assistant athletic therapist for three seasons before becoming the lead athletic therapist in 2000.

He’s known as one of the most affable members of the organization, one that clearly endeared himself with current and former players.

Brass Tacks

There’s no word regarding Dr. David S. Mulder, the team’s head physician who has been part of the organization since 1963.

It’s doubtful the Canadiens would part ways with Dr. Mulder, given his status as one of the most respected doctors in sports. However, Tuesday’s move does open the door to adding more members to their medical staff, members that would work closely with the roster players as Dr. Mulder serves as a consultant.

Even though it’s hard to solely blame either Balmforth or Rynbend for the unfortunate streak of injuries over the last 24 months, you’d be hard-pressed to argue a change was not needed.

Given the unreasonable number of man-games lost, or rather, the record-setting number of man-games lost, the Montreal Canadiens had no choice but to re-evaluate their entire medical process.

Not only did the injuries take their toll on the standings, but they also led to the Habs icing one of the most expensive rosters in the NHL.

Owner Geoff Molson ended up spending over $105 million to finish among the bottom-5 teams in the league, a rather disappointing return on his investment.

The aftershock reached well beyond the Canadiens.

The Laval Rocket were pillaged throughout the season, leaving them with very few reliable options in the lineup. Consequently, the Trois-Rivieres Lions were also called upon to provide warm bodies, leaving the organization’s ECHL franchise in a situation that forced a bevy of hasty signings as they desperately attempted to fill the roster.

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Loooooonnnnnnggggg overdue. Hopefully the entire medical department gets modernized like HuGo have been doing with other departments like development, analytics, nutrition, etc. I’m surprised it has taken this long since the season ended for the axe to fall. Strange timing too when you consider that the team should be in full on draft preparation mode.


That’s why they didn’t have time to take a prospect for dinner. 😛


How is this strange timing? For once explain yourself Tyrone, instead of making a clueless remarks that has nothing to do with reality The fact that the team is in “full on draft mode”, as you put it, has absolutely nothing to do with it. Teams are not allowed dot give undrafted players a medical or physical of any kind (aside from open work outs given at the combine), so the state of the medical team has nothing to do with the draft. Maybe find out the facts before you ramble off with your nonsense.


Get a life Dave. Do you seriously have nothing better to do than insult people’s comments here? Once again, you are the clueless one who can’t read. It’s embarrassing. My comment has nothing to do with medically testing draft prospects. The timing is strange because this firing could have happened a long time ago, rather when the team should be putting all their efforts into preparing for the draft.

#DaveCavanaugh #DavidCavanaugh #DaveCavanaughisatroll

John Smith

The year prior, I blame the fatigue- both physical and mental- from Montreal’s Stanley Cup run. The players only had 2 months to recover.

This year could have been plain bad luck.

My other theory is that there might be a “domino like effect” on injuries. That is, when a key player got hurt, there was more pressure on the non-injured teammates to up their performances. They then became more fatigued and vulnerable to getting hurt.

A team is like a body. it is a unified whole. Once there is strain in one part, it tends to impact another.

Think of it this way, if your knee starts to hurt, your body mechanics alter to compensate for the pain and another part, for example your hips or back then might go.

This same potential scenario may have happened to this season’s Habs.

Captain Kirk

It might be the medical staff. At least it’s easy to start with that but what if it’s just bad luck? I find it odd that the 2 persons let go aren’t rookies. They’ve been there a long time so if they’ve been there a long time, I would think you should see evidence of poor medical management over more than just 2 years. How many days were lost in the last dozen years? If it’s linked to the medical staff, I would expect to see more than the league average. Players also have a role here too. How many times did players insist on coming back too soon? Who has the final say? The players or the medical staff. Reading between the lines, it seems in at least one instance-it was the player. I believe Monahan’s injury was originally something else but he returned too soon or wanted to return too soon. Is that on the medical staff? We’ll likely never know. Hopefully they don’t end up losing more than usual next year because that would be hard to blame on the medical staff.


It is difficult to analyze the amount of man games lost because we are not given the details per player. For example we do not know if the 82 games that Paul Byron missed are included in this total or if Carey Price on long term injury reserve is included in this total. It is unfortunate that fans cannot be provided with a detailed list showing each player’s man games lost.