Montreal Canadiens’ Season Dominated By Injury Report

Jun 24, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

The physical and mental limits of NHL players continue to be pushed to unprecedented extremes. The Montreal Canadiens condensed schedule and subsequent drive for 16 wins of intense playoff hockey last year continues to contribute to their record breaking injury report and disappointing season this year.

In an 82 game regular season, without the need for condensed schedules due to Covid, the demands placed on players in the modern day NHL are extreme if not unrealistic. However, due to Covid forced cancellations last season, the Canadiens played their final 25 games in 43 days before the playoff grind even began.

Shea Weber, Carey Price and Joel Edmundson, 3 key components of the Habs leadership group from last year have yet to play this season. Jeff Petry this season looks a mere shadow of his former self.

Playing some of the most meaningful games of their careers as they chased the NHL’s holy grail last summer, many of the team persevered through painful injuries, but the toll taken on their bodies was more than the players or fans could have predicted.

Shea Weber likely will never play again due to the long list of injuries he’s dealing with. Carey Price has already experienced two setbacks in his attempt to return from off-season knee surgery and  spent 30 days in a treatment facility to deal with substance abuse. Carey and Habs fans now face the possibility that he too, may not be able to come back at all.

Joel Edmundson is still out indefinitely with back problems and no timeline for a return.

Paul Byron played his first game of this season just before the NHL All Star break. Byron recently stated he’d been playing through chronic pain for the past 3 years and finally realized the only way to have a chance at continuing his NHL career was to have his ailing hip surgically repaired.

Brendan Gallagher has missed half of the season already due to a combination of injuries and Covid protocol. Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson have both missed 11 games so far this season. Jake Allen is now on the long term injured reserve list as is Jonathan Drouin, David Savard, Christian Dvorak and Mathieu Perrault.

Hockey players are warriors. They often play in pain and many times when they probably shouldn’t. Ultra competitive creatures by nature, professional athletes continually push themselves through pain and adversity in order to compete at the highest level. Fans pay good money for tickets and want to see their favourite players in uniform, but high numbers of players out of  the lineup due to physical and mental issues has become an all too familiar topic.

No team gets through a season without dealing with its share of injuries. Often the Stanley Cup goes to the team that had the most regular players lucky enough to escape injury and still be able to play through the long season and playoffs.

Reaching the Stanley Cup final also dictates that players will have inadequate time to rest, recover and heal before the grind starts all over again.

The pandemic and its effect on scheduling aside, the NHL must put more effort into protecting its players physical and mental health. A somewhat shortened season ought to be considered. Players careers would be lengthened and entertainment value would increase with more stars playing games rather than sitting out nursing injuries.

We begin the 2nd half of the season heading into another intense period of make-up games due to prior Covid induced cancellations as the NHL is determined to play a full 82 game schedule this year.  The difficult 2021/22 Montreal Canadiens season, with almost 400 man games lost to injury at the midway point, is clear evidence of the extreme wear and tear on the bodies and minds of NHL players caused by a long season, condensed scheduling, and a long and intense playoff run.