Chris Campoli's Injury A Matter of "Months"
It was less than two weeks ago that we were discussing the signing of defenseman Chris Campoli. Was the young defenseman, rejected no more than three months ago by the Chicago Blackhawks after an arbitration hearing, going to have a positive impact on the Canadiens' blueline. Was this a panic signing by General Manager Pierre Gauthier, after mulling over the bad Andrei Markov news coming into training camp? Or was Campoli just another Paul Mara or Brent Sopel, acquired for no other reason than to keep a seat on the bench warm?
Whatever your original opinion on the defenseman may have been, it was now been rendered irrelevant, thanks to a freak hamstring injury suffered by Campoli in the Canadiens' home opener Thursday night in Toronto, a 2-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Leafs.
During the second period, Campoli got his skate stuck in a groove on the ice in front of Carey Price's net, and proceeded to extend his hamstring. The injury is so bad that coach Jacques Martin told the media that Campoli's recovery will be a matter of months, not days or weeks. That means that the recently-signed player could be out of the line-up until Christmas. The incident marked the second time in as many games (and his only games as a Hab) that Campoli was forced to leave the ice with an injury, the first time thanks to a dirty Ryan Malone hit that would go unpunished.
Not only is the news bad for Campoli, but possibly a bad omen for the Habs in general. News also broke this weekend that Blair Betts, claimed off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers earlier in the week, will miss his second game since being acquired thanks to a nagging lower back injury. While we can still assume that it isn't major, lower back injuries definitely aren't something that should be taken lightely. Not to mention that Betts out of the line-up means that Andreas Engqvist has to center the team's 4th line, and despite several opportunities to impress the coaches in a Habs uniform, Engqvist has been a complete and utter none-factor.
Add Andrei Markov to the injured list, as well as a few more forwards, including Lars Eller and Ryan White, and the Canadiens are already looking to be in pretty bad shape, injury-wise, heading into the rest of the 81 games on the season.
It's no reason to panic just yet, but this was finally supposed to be the year this team stayed healthy. The injuries are a little concerning and there are only so many depth defenseman that Gauthier can sign or claim off waivers before he has to start giving up assets to fill the gaps.
To make up for not only the loss of Campoli, but also Jeff Woywitka, who was claimed off waivers by the New York Rangers, Gauthier signed Joe Callahan to a one-year, two-way deal. The 28-year-old American defenseman will be sent directly to Hamilton. Callahan has 27 games of experience under his belt with the Florida Panthers last year, spread all over the season, so don't expect the career AHLer to see action with the big club unless things get especially desperate.
I'm sure that Habs fans can't help but feel a little concerned with all these developments, especially with the completely disorganized and uneven performance the team put forth in Toronto on Thursday.
Still, there might be some light at the end fo the tunnel for the team. Alexsei Yemelin will get to debut with the team tomorrow nigth in Winnipeg, in his first taste of real NHL action, and you'd have to imagine that he'll be rearing and ready to go. He'll likely suit up next to Josh Gorges, but will also be joined by Raphael Diaz, who looked good in his NHL debut on Thursday with the team.
Moreover, Lars Eller practices with the team yesterday, subbing for Mike Cammalleri on a scoring line, who only practices for a few minutes (I'm going to ignore that second part of that sentence, but I know what you're all thinking), and you have to imagine that the canadiens will look a little better tomorrow night.
Tomorrow night's game starts at 5PM, and it already guaranteed to be insane thanks to rabid Jets fans, who have been waiting for this for over a decade and a half. Check back tomorrow for a preview from Shahab Khan, and enjoy the game!