Friday, April 1, 2016
Poor Len predicts P.K. Subban will not return to Habs lineup
The Habs' problems started with the injury to Carey Price -- all-star goaltender and most valuable player and everything else -- last fall. But that was only the beginning. There have been other injuries, players brought up from the AHL, players sent down to the AHL, players traded out and players traded in, all making it necessary to have a programme to know who's playing from one game to the next. That's a problem not just for fans, but for coach Michel Therrien and for the players themselves. I can almost hear them asking, as they step on to the ice, "Who's that new guy? What happened to so-and-so?" It's hard to play as a team when you haven't been properly introduced!
One play who has been absent for the last couple of weeks, by reason of injury, is the allegedly "transcendant" (Hello, Dave Stubbs!) alleged defenceman, P.K. Subban, who has been the subject of my rants for a couple of years now. Even before he was accidentally crunched by teammate Alexei Emelin, there was a lot of talk, behind closed doors and then out in the open, about the effect of Subban's gigantic ego on the play and the morale of the rest of the team. As Stu Cowan put it in the Gazoo last week, that ego takes up a lot of room in the room!
The silver lining in the cloud of Pernell Karl's injury, then, is that it gave other members of the defence corps a chance to show their stuff. And so they did, not always, but sometimes -- particularly in last night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mike Condon, the rookie backup goalie who has played in over 50 games, got his first NHL shutout as the Habs blanked the Bolts 3-0. He was ably supported by just five defencemen -- Nathan Beauliu having been injured in the first period -- of whom three (Pateryn, Dietz and Hanley) have played in only a couple of dozen games. All five did just fine, merci!
Beaulieu's injury raised the question of whether Subban, who travelled to Florida with the team, would return tomorrow night, when Montréal skates into the lair of the Panthers. The answer, provided this morning by Coach Therrien, is NO! Yet another member of the St. John's Icecaps -- Brett Lernout -- will join his three teammates, leaving Andrei Markov and Emelin as the only experienced defence duo wearing the bleu-blanc-et-rouge.
The official reason given for letting Subban watch the game from the press box is that he isn't ready yet. They don't want to make the same mistake as they did with Price, by bringing him back before he fully recovers from his injury. That's the party line. But the real reason (Poor Len can reveal) is for the good of the team! Keeping the divisive defenceman out of the lineup avoids any more fighting and finger-pointing in the dressing room.
And letting Subban sit gives GM Marc Bergevin the freedom to shop him around -- his no-trade clause kicks in on July 1st -- without fear that he'll be reinjured and thus of less value to another team. Poor Len predicts that He Who Must Not Be Criticized has played his last game as a Canadien. You read it here first.