Normally this conversation waits until the playoffs. But the always-interesting Canadiens decided to bring it to the forefront early.
In a bit of postseason-like subterfuge, the Habs are refusing to disclose the nature of goalie Carey Price’s injury that has kept him out since Nov. 2. He said he was injured that night in some capacity during warmups before looking “discombobulated” in a 6-3 loss to the Wild. The knee injury that ruined Price’s 2015-16 season also happened during warmups, when he stepped on a puck. He played through that ailment until it became unbearable, but the team was never transparent about what was going on, first saying he’d be out six weeks before finally admitting he was done for the year with a MCL sprain.
At least this this time, they’ve learned a small lesson, saying on Tuesday that he is going to stay off the ice for a few days because the injury “just wasn’t getting any better.” Price tried to ease some concerns by adding, “I’ll be back soon.” Even general manager Marc Bergevin chimed in, saying, “It won’t be long.”
It’s good both of them spoke to the media — another improvement for the normally tight-lipped organization — but is there any reason not to say what is wrong with him? The closest they will get is saying that it’s not related to the right-knee injury — but that’s it. Tell me, what is the benefit of keeping this a secret? Is it because if someone found out he had a hamstring injury they might try to exploit it? How, exactly, would one go about doing that?
I get it that players don’t want to disclose injuries for a couple reasons. But the idea that other players are going to try to come after that weakness in a game, is foolish. If a guy is playing hurt and the fans and media don’t know exactly what’s wrong with him, don’t be fooled by thinking the opposing players and coaches don’t know exactly what’s wrong. And, let’s say Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh is playing through a minor knee injury — which, of course, we don’t know — you think the opposition is going to hit him harder than normal, and try to make him beat them with his skating? I can’t imagine it would change a coach’s gameplan in the slightest.
The other big reason players don’t want to disclose injuries is the stigma of being hurt. I get it — it’s a cruel marketplace out there, and if it’s common knowledge one player has had knee problems and another one of commensurate skill hasn’t, guess who’s getting the contract? That’s a big reason players don’t want to disclose their own concussions, too.
But it is only beneficial to the league to force teams and players to make this information public. To ask what the benefit of that is — which, believe me, players and teams ask often — just think if you went to read a novel and every other chapter was missing. The more information about the game, the better likelihood of fan engagement. Same can be said about the specifics on contracts. Why on Earth does there need to be a third-party website to track salary-cap information? If fans want to intelligently talk trades — which is a barroom classic and necessity of engagement — they need this information.
But no. Another day goes by with the league thinking less information for the fans is better. And then people think it’s cruel that the Montreal Gazette has a “prediction generator” for Price’s return — my most recent click saying: “Carey Price, who is dealing with a slightly dislocated little toe, will be back in 509 days.”
It’s funny, but the concealment of injuries is not.
In game No. 18, the Predators finally got a goal from Ryan Johansen, who is in the first season of an eight-year, $64 million contract. The 25-year-old was also coming off a season that ended abruptly with emergency surgery in May for acute compartment syndrome in his left thigh, keeping him from the rest of Nashville’s run to the Stanley Cup final.
His goal came 49 seconds into the game Thursday against the Wild, and it broke a three-game shutout streak for goalie Devan Dubnyk. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Dubnyk was the third goaltender in the expansion era (since 1967-68) to post three consecutive shutouts multiple times in his NHL career, joining Brian Elliott (three times ) and Roberto Luongo (twice). His 195:54 without giving up a goal is a franchise record — and probably will be for some time.
Funny how things work out sometimes. Now if only the goalless Brent Burns can find a goalie with a shutout streak. . .
A lot of rinks around the league could learn from how the Blackhawks’ United Center in Chicago puts on a game. The scoreboard looks like it’s from the 1960s, the organ screams, the music is rock-based, and there are very few frills. It might be the best place to see a NHL game, behind maybe only Montreal in the league. Doesn’t hurt that they have over 20,000 fans each night — a 23,500 capacity, with 21,528 there on Wednesday night for the Rangers — in full throat during the national anthem. It’s also in a city that is second to one, even if they think this is pizza.
If I’m asleep in the second period, you’ll know why. pic.twitter.com/Mq72xDdtCi
— Brett Cyrgalis (@BrettCyrgalis) November 15, 2017
Stay tuned . . .
. . . to more relocation/expansion talk over the next few months (if not years). A report from Katie Strang of The Athletic said that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had a meeting with Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta about potentially getting a team in Houston.
Personally, I think Houston makes sense. But please, please don’t use this as leverage against the city of Ottawa to build a new downtown rink, even if that is a great idea. If the citizens of the city want it, they’ll build it. Professional sports leagues should not have a say in civic discourse.
The Islanders had a black lab named Charlie, who is in training to be a service dog for a veteran returning from combat, drop out the first puck on Thursday night. I can’t be the only one thinking, “Good dogggggg.”
Good boy, Charlie! ?
Charlie is a black lab in training with @AmericasVetDogs to be paired up with one of our country’s heroes.
He was joined by members of the U.S. Army Special Forces group out of Fort Bragg to drop the ceremonial puck tonight! pic.twitter.com/RRX7WPHmpT
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 17, 2017