(Brossard) The Canadiens’ players spent the winter defending the team’s medical staff despite numerous injuries and it was not the day after the departure of chief athletic therapist Graham Rynbend that they were going to start showing finger someone.
Nick Suzuki, Kaiden Guhle and Samuel Montembeault spoke on Wednesday after a promotional event at the Bell Sports Complex on the sidelines of the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada. They admitted they were surprised to learn on Tuesday that Rynbend and chief physical therapist Donald Balmforth will not be back next season.
“I knew Kent (Hughes, general manager) and ‘Gorts’ (Jeff Gorton, vice-president of hockey operations) wanted to overhaul that aspect of the organization because of the high number of injuries,” Suzuki said. I didn’t know anything more until I heard the news.
According to various specialized sites, the Canadian broke an NHL record in each of the last two seasons for the number of games missed by injuries.
“There were a lot of injuries that were impossible to prevent,” Guhle insisted. There is a question of bad luck. Can’t blame them for that. Injuries are part of our sport. »
In his first season with the Habs, Guhle got to know Rynbend. He was limited to just 44 games with a knee injury and then another ankle injury.
“It’s a shame to see them go and I wish them luck wherever they end up,” Guhle said.
For his part, Montembeault played despite a wrist injury during the second half of the 2021-22 season. He then underwent surgery once the campaign was over.
“It had been good. As soon as I was injured, I was told what the plan was, he said. We followed up with the doctors.
“I had played for almost three months despite my injury, but it was planned,” he added. We knew there was a tear, but the situation could not deteriorate. If I had felt too much pain, I would have stopped playing. I was able to wait until the end of the season before having surgery. »
Rynbend had been with the Canadiens organization since 1997. He had been chief athletic therapist since 2000.
For his part, Balmforth, who also worked for the Montreal Alouettes, had been head physiotherapist since 2017, after just under a decade in a consulting role.
Suzuki was also meeting the media for the first time since fellow on and off the ice Cole Caufield signed an eight-year, $62.8 million contract extension with the Habs.
The captain of the Canadian was obviously happy to know that he will be able to count on Caufield for a long time to come.
“I hope we have the opportunity to build something special together here,” Suzuki said.
Caufield will earn an average annual salary of $7.85 million over the next eight seasons, $25,000 less per year than Suzuki. He noted that both were life-changing amounts. He also believes that they will not handicap the organization in terms of its salary scale.
“I think these are good contracts for the team, which are acceptable to both parties,” Suzuki said. It will give us some leeway to find other good players and make us a better team. »
And after paying for Caufield’s meal a few times last winter, when he was winding down the first season of his $63 million contract, Suzuki smirked that he hopes the American will return the favor. this season !