There’s one constant in any sports: injuries. Every NHL team has them. Some teams even miss a key player here and there. And it a league with such parity, losing a player or two can be the difference between winning or losing. Sure, other players can step in… but usually not in the long run, particularly not if the player lost is one of your best player. While the old cliché is to say that injuries are no excuses, they remain a very important factor nonetheless.
After the Playoffs were over, Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin announced that Shea Weber would be missing this entire season and that his career was in jeopardy. Weber aggravated an ankle injury, the one he was operated on back in 2018 that limited him to 26 games that year. He also suffered a thumb injury and a knee injury.
To start this 2021-22 season, the Canadiens have six players (including five regulars) out of their line-up. More than the number of players, the key here is the importance of those players. If salary most times equals the level of the player, those missing from the Canadiens’ line-up represent over 37% of the NHL’s maximum cap of $81.5 million. In total, the Habs are missing players with a total salary of over $30 million!
|Shea Weber||$ 7,857,143|
|Mike Hoffman||$ 4,500,000|
|Joel Edmundson||$ 3,500,000|
|Paul Byron||$ 3,400,000|
|Sami Niku||$ 750,000|
Price is on the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. Weber and Byron are on the Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR). Hoffman, Edmundson and Niku are on the Injury Reserve. And that’s not counting Mattias Norlinder, Josh Brook and Joel Teasdale who are on the Season Opening Injured Reserve.
TSN Insider Pierre LeBrun was on Pinty’s Overdrive with Bryan Hayes and Dave Feschuk last week and he stated that he doesn’t think we’ll see Weber ever play again.
So the team might be off to a slow start. Fans and media are already grumbling and chomping at the bit. But they, at the very least, need to take two things into consideration. One, the impact those injured players have on the team. And two, they have a few new players and it takes time to gel and create chemistry with their new teammates, their surrounding and the system to become second nature. All of this to say that before panicking, let’s give this team the quarter of the season, around 20 games, before being too critical.