Of course there’s not much of a silver lining found when it comes to Josh Gorges being out for the season. Not a lot of good can be said about losing this no-frills, dependable fellow whom the team goes to for the penalty-kill and getting the puck out of his end and doing all the little things without anyone noticing.
Coaches love players like Gorges.
But maybe one thing can be salvaged from this ill-timed bad luck. PK Subban has been called upon to pick up some serious slack, and there’s more to this than meets the eye.
Subban is only a few milliseconds gone from sitting in his perch in the press box, the wind knocked out of him from a Jacques Martin gut-punch, with confidence wavering, asked by the coaches to tone down his game and play more like Gorges than like himself. Stop being so fancy-free, they said. Do less and do it right.
Be the conservative leader of the blueline. Pretend the rink is church and not Studio 54.
Subban admitted after a recent three-game benching that yes, his confidence was waning, that it felt like he was skating in sand, and he had a look on his face that spoke volumes. The thrill was gone, the game on the pond was over. Time to come in and finish the homework. Some of us, myself included, worried the heart and soul had been torn out of the young thoroughbred.
Now, with Gorges in civvies, Subban is playing serious minutes, almost twenty-six against Boston for example, and is being asked to provide yeoman’s duty, pick up the slack left by the depleted defence, and become that force we all knew he could be if his confidence was at full-tilt.
All this means one thing – with Subban in Jacques Martin’s doghouse, we had to forget about thoughts of a Calder Trophy for our young star. Forget about PK as Rookie of the Year.
But twenty-five or twenty-six minutes a game is a far cry from purgatory and the game is back on. It’s all up to the young fellow now. He’s been given a chance because of the loss of Gorges to become a young star playing a ton of minutes while driving the opposition crazy in the meantime.
We haven’t had one of these young defenseman Calder Trophy winners since Jacques Laperriere captured the prize after the 1963-64 season. And of course the Montreal Canadiens need trophy winners. It’s been decades since the big prizes were given to a Hab. Maybe best card player on road trips, but no Art Ross or Norris or Hart or Calder. No Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, or Ken Dryden.
Just a lot of guys rounding the final turn while the Kentucky Derby winner is receiving flowers and carrots.
Could we have a big one this year? As long as PK is playing, playing a lot, and not making crazy game-costing mistakes, we might. It’s not asking too much to want a big star once again on the Montreal Canadiens, is it?