The return to play in the national hockey League (NHL), this summer, will be in a context where the risk of injury will be quite high. Back at the height of the competition, after almost four months of stop and a short camp, this will likely result in many physical problems, from mild to severe, with the players.
This is probably why the teams involved will have the right to take a 28 skaters in the “cities-bubbles” at the resumption of activities. That, and the risks posed by the COVID-19…
The injury, according to the time they occur and the player who is affected, can completely break the rhythm of a team. In the regular season, in the playoffs, it is a sword of Damocles hanging constantly over the heads of the organizations.
Over the years, the Montreal canadiens, has not been spared by this kind of bad luck. A few times, the loss of a key player resulted in a descent to the underworld, or a failure to otherwise preventable.
Here are five cases sadly memorable in the last few years :
Carey Price, the playoffs of 2014
The Canadian knew a remarkable run in the playoffs, in 2014, when they gathered in front of the New York Rangers in the final of Association. The HP had eliminated the Lightning and Bruins, the first two rounds, thanks in large part to the brilliance of goalie Carey Price. With the approach of the series, the Rangers appeared as a rival tough, but prenable. But as soon as the second period of the first game, this is disaster : the attacker Rangers Chris Kreider, as imposing as fast, heading toward Price. And then falls. Legs first. Price cashes all the blow on his knee. No supporter of the CH has not forgotten the images. Price finished the period, but would not come back in the series. Forced to fend for themselves without him, the Habs drop the flag in six games despite a benefit courageous of Dustin Tokarski in front of the net as a replacement for a goalkeeper who, this spring, there was irreplaceable.
Saku Koivu, playoffs 2006
The young Hurricanes were not going to be an opponent convenient for the Canadian in the first round of the series in 2006. After all, the CH had finished in seventh in the East in the regular season and the Carolina in the second. Montreal has, however, initiated the series in strength by winning the first two games, and Carolina. The confidence for the return to Montreal… except that the disaster has struck as early as the third game in the second period.
The unlucky? Saku Koivu. The valiant captain was in the vicinity of the opposition’s net when the attacker Hurricanes Justin Williams has wanted to raise his stick. The problem is that Williams has spent the whole law and he did hold his stick in the eye. Under the visor of Koivu. It must be done. Seriously affected, Koivu left the game and did not return to the series. There was concern even for his career. The CH, without his captain, then cashed four straight fights.
Lars Eller, playoffs, 2013
Let’s be honest : the attacker Lars Eller has never really been a key player during his time in Montreal… except maybe in 2012-2013, where he has enjoyed by far his best season with the CH, with 30 points in 46 games.
The Danish helped the team to finish in second place in the Association of the East, behind the Penguins, during this campaign, which was shortened by a lockout.
The Canadian was therefore widely favorite against the Senators in the first round of the playoffs, but Ottawa officials have foiled the predictions by eliminating Montreal in only five games. Everything went wrong for the CH during this confrontation, starting with the first fight.
In the second period, they have lost the services of Eller in the wake of a violent elbow from Eric Gryba. The attacker remained a long time lying on the ice after he fell head first.
The rest of the series went without a Eller, who suffered a concussion, fractures to the face and broken teeth. Gryba has been suspended two games for his gesture. Let’s say that his subsequent visits to Montreal were greeted with generous boos.
Richard Zednik, playoffs, 2002
This year, the HP participated in the series for the first time in four seasons. But we do not give expensive of their skin : the opponent in the first round, Boston, was objectively much stronger. The Habs, however, had three aces in his sleeve : the first was the presence of captain Saku Koivu, incredibly inspiring for the group, after having fought cancer for most of the season. There was also the goalie José Theodore, a downright dominant this year.
The third ace, it was Richard Zednik. Not very big, but very strong, brave and rather good marker, the winger Slovak was a real thorn in the foot for Boston. In the fourth match, unable to stop it, while Zednik had already eight points in the meter, the Bruins have found a classic : the hurt for good (hello Zdeno!).
It is the poor defender Kyle McLaren who was responsible for the dirty work-this time, serving as an impeccable “clothesline” to Zednik, who left the game on a stretcher, never to return in this series. The HP rallied to beat Boston, but in the second round, the loss of the production of Zednik has been felt, and Montreal were eliminated by the Hurricanes.
Andrei Markov, the end of the season, playoffs, 2009
The Russian has always been an important player for the CH, but it has never been as good as during the 2008-2009 season, where he amassed 64 points in 78 games. Montreal took the series in the viewfinder when Markov was injured in a knee, on 4 April, after it was hit by Mikhail Grabovski, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The first round, against the powerful Bruins (again), was passed without Markov. The CH, who had experienced his share of hardships during that season, has never seemed able to recover from the loss of the great defender of the Russian.
While the team celebrated its centenary, it was done to eliminate four small matches by his greatest rival. And the following summer, the general manager, Bob Gainey, was a large household within his group of players leaving from Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev, for example. And for Markov, this injury was the first of a series that was going to affect him during the three following seasons…