Montreal Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien may have a point, even if the Habs are missing the larger one altogether.
Report: Carey Price Likely Done
Denying the accuracy of a La Presse report stating the Habs are no longer expecting goalie Carey Price to play this season, Therrien argued Price wouldn’t be working out so hard right now if he wasn’t eyeing a return in the coming weeks.
It’s admittedly a valid rebuttal, no doubt. Anyone who’s been paying attention to Price’s recovery in recent weeks (i.e., everyone in Montreal) can attest to the fact that videos have surfaced showing Price skating, albeit visibly in some discomfort in one, which led to Therrien having to publically maintain that the original latest late-February timeline for his return remains intact earlier to try and reassure fans.
However, if you’re to believe the La Presse story by Richard Labbé in its entirety, it’s hard to not at least question the sincerity of the organization as a whole, when “they want to keep any hopes alive however small. They don’t want fans to quit on their team. There is a marketing element to this.”
Needless to say, this report is a double whammy to Montreal’s playoff hopes this season and credibility moving forward if ever revealed to be true. Fans may have an answer as to whether it is or not sooner rather than later.
Lower-Body or Low Blow?
One thing that isn’t a secret is ironically how much of one the Canadiens’ have kept the nature of Price’s injury. All anyone knows for sure is it’s a lower-body injury (unless it’s an upper-body one, of course), with the organization opting to maintain its tight lips instead of its top spot in the standings when Price went down, possibly for good, back in November.
As such, it’s easier to believe Labbé here, because there is a precedent for the Habs’ lack of, shall we say, honesty? All for no good reason, too.
Price has had lower-body injuries before. It’s not as if opposing teams would try to take any additional liberties on him this time around. And, if Price isn’t going to return, it makes the organization’s stance even more ludicrous. All they stand to do is lose the loyalty of hard-working, high-paying fans.
However, in spite of the marketing angle of this report, that’s an incredibly misguided takeaway as that would be an unlikely, worst-case scenario for them (apart from losing the services of Price for even longer). This is Montreal after all. For every season-ticket holder who grows fed up with the on-ice product and the off-ice bull, there are 10 if not 50 others willing to take their place.
In essence, the Canadiens have free reign to disclose however much or little as they wish, because there are no ramifications of any significant lasting consequence.
The fans, though, deserve more, as they’re losers if the report turns out to be true or false. If Price doesn’t return, it becomes clearer that the organization to whom they’ve entrusted a great deal of their Saturday evenings over the years, has been less than fully honest with them.
This isn’t even about losing out on a shot at the playoffs anymore. If Price does return, it will almost certainly be too little too late for a team that currently finds itself three points away from the last wild-card spot beyond February 1, with just 27 games remaining entering action Friday night (29 for the eighth-place Pittsburgh Penguins).
At this point, there is no good one for Price to return, especially when he’ll have presumably been working hard to come back this season and then will be faced with the unenviable task of getting the Habs, now with just 58 points, to at least 95 by season’s end.
What could the possible benefit be other than to win a public-relations battle? Even if the Habs are proven to have been telling the truth all along, is it really worth the risk of him overexerting himself and reaggravating his… lower body apparently?
He represents the key to the future success of the organization, after all… and it will need all the help it can get, if the handling of this whole situation is anything to go by. The Habs are failing miserably.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.