BROSSARD – With the season at an end, the injured Canadiens came forward with details about what kept them out of the lineup.
It’s no secret that like it or not, the Canadiens’ final rank in the Eastern Conference standings had a lot to do with a roster decimated by injuries all season long. While the nature of injuries are understandably kept under wraps when games still remain to be played, Monday morning in Brossard, several Habs were on hand to discuss their injuries and offer updates on the recovery process.
“I have a concussion,” explained Ryan White, who was forced to sit for the last five games of the season after already having spent the majority of 2011-12 recovering from a sports hernia. “I didn’t really know what I had for the first few days but I wasn’t feeling really good on the trip – I got my bell rung pretty well against Florida and I wasn’t able to make it back to play.
“I kind of fell down at the end of the fight and he caught me with one where my neck just snapped back,” continued the gritty forward who still managed to throw 61 hits in only 20 games this season. “I felt fine for a day or two but when we got to New York, I wasn’t feeling right during the morning skate so I went to the trainers and coaching staff and that ended up being the rest of my season.”
Along with White, Carey Price, Travis Moen, Mathieu Darche and Scott Gomez were also kept out of action for the season’s final games, all recovering from concussions of their own. The hardest part for many of the Habs unable to finish out the season is the inevitable question marks it means for next year with new management on the horizon.
“Every team needs veterans. I’m confident that I showed them enough to merit staying with the team,” expressed Mathieu Darche, who missed the final 21 games with concussion-like symptoms. “If they decide to go in another direction, that’s out of my control. I would obviously love to keep playing here. It would be a shame to end my career with the Canadiens with the team in 15th place.
“I would have liked to have been able to play every game. The worst part is that when I got hurt, I was playing my best hockey of the season – at least that’s how I felt,” he added. “Things were going well for me with Pleky and I think I was doing well on the penalty kill. In the end, it’s not something I could really control.”
Across the room, Travis Moen, also slated to become an unrestricted free agent over the offseason, was making his own speculations about what a new general manager could mean for his future.
“We still haven’t had any discussions related to my contract. When there’s a new general manager here, I guess we’ll discuss it then,” said Moen, who suffered his concussion in the second period of the Habs’ 5-0 win over the Leafs on Feb. 11. “I really love playing in Montreal and I hope we’ll be able to reach an agreement. You never know if a new GM is going to like you – they can think you fit in perfectly with the team or not at all. But for my part, I think I’ve been able to show what I can do over my last few years here. I’m back to 100% now and I’m planning on working hard all summer to be ready for next year.”
Concussions aside, a slew of other injuries also contributed to the Canadiens’ topping the league with a total of 440 man-games lost due to injury in 2011-12. Still on the mend, players will be making the most of the summer months ahead to get back to top form, starting with captain, Brian Gionta who attended the team's final practice of the year.
“It was a four month injury and I’m a pretty much three months and a week into it. I’m at the strengthening portion of the rehab and trying to get the arm strong again,” explained the veteran winger, shelved for season’s last 41 games after undergoing surgery to repair a torn bicep. “I’m sure you can shave off some time here and there and try to accelerate the process. I felt good at the morning skate at the end; it was nice to be out there with the guys to feel where I am in that process.”
With the World Hockey Championships set up to begin in just under a month, Yannick Weber and Raphael Diaz will find themselves unable to suit up for Switzerland, both recovering from lower-body injuries that kept them out of the lineup for 10 and 18 games, respectively.
“No World’s for me,” shared Weber while discussing his MCL sprain. “It would be a bit tight as far as scheduling. The injury takes about four to six weeks to heal, so I could only start skating full-contact around the time when the tournament would start.
“I hurt the knee before the trade deadline; I think I missed four games. When I came back, the knee felt good but, but I guess it wasn’t all that good in the end. I tweaked it again against Ottawa, and it went from being a grade one tear to a grade two tear, which takes a little bit longer to come back from,” concluded the Swiss defenseman. “I’m happy it didn’t happen in the middle of the year, I’m lucky nothing else is damaged and that I don’t need surgery.”
A few stalls down, fellow defenseman Diaz echoed his countryman’s sentiments.
“I’m planning on staying here for a few more weeks to make sure that I’m totally recovered and then I’ll be heading back to spend some time in Switzerland. The timing of my injury really wasn’t the best. I would have loved to continue playing but at some point I had to stop,” explained Diaz of a groin injury that kept him out of action since Feb. 28.
“I tried to keep playing and pushing through the injury, but there came a point where it wasn’t possible anymore. It’s the kind of thing that just needs time to heal. I will be back at 100% next year though,” he finished. “It’s going to be a new season and we’re all starting again from zero, whatever happened this year.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
Carey Price named the 2011-2012 Molson Cup Player of the Year