He wants to do well. The pace of the league keeps going up and he took a step back. It’s just a normal process to ease him in back, to help him. I always tell him, ‘I’m with you’. - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- Admittedly, Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley is easing rookie Sean Monahan back into game action.
Monahan, who missed seven games with a hairline fracture in his foot, has yet to play more than his season average of 15:32 in the five games he’s played in since his return.
It’s for good reason, according to Hartley.
“He’s a 19-year-old kid,” Hartley said. “He wants to do well. The pace of the league keeps going up and he took a step back. It’s just a normal process to ease him in back, to help him. I always tell him, ‘I’m with you’.”
Through 24 games before sustaining the injury, Monahan had nine goals and 15 points. He has just one point -- a goal -- since.
But his totals, ice time or otherwise, aren’t a concern for Hartley.
“It’s not a matter of what I see or don’t see,” he said. “For the first time in his NHL career, he was on a high playing so well then he got an injury and whenever you have a foot injury, basically everything stops. You can do as much upper body work that you want, you’re not going to get the same conditioning and to ride the bike with a running shoe and a boot, it’s not the same workout.”
The fact that Monahan has had a walking boot isn’t worrisome to the coach, either.
“I checked many times with the medical staff because I was sick and tired of seeing him walk with that boot,” Hartley said. “I still feel that it was from a precautionary measure to keep him in that boot but at the same time, it’s pretty tough to walk with that boot for 16 hours a day and then get on the ice and play at this level.”
Hartley has full confidence that the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder will round into form.
It’s Monahan’s nature, after all.
“He’s going to get back in gear. He’s a very proud man,” Hartley said. “As a kid, I think he’s showing unbelievable maturity. I have no doubt in my mind Monny will get back on track. It’s as much him as me to work as partners to try to get him in.
“I think he faced adversity. He’s not happy with his game, but he’s done it in a pro way and I think it shows again his unbelievable maturity.”