Injuries are a fact of life in professional sports, and every single team has to do with them at some point. Few teams had to go through what the Montreal Canadiens did last season as they lost more man games due to injury (some more significant than others) than any other team in the league.
Their defense was a mess early in the year due to numerous injuries (including yet another one for top defenseman Andrei Markov), and then in January they lost their captain, and one of their top goal-scorers, Brian Gionta to a torn bicep.
There is some good news on that front, however, as general manager Marc Bergevin said on Tuesday, via Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette, that Gionta has fully recovered from the injury.
Gionta last appeared in a game for the Canadiens on January 10 against the St. Louis Blues and was then forced to miss the final 40 games of the regular season.
Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong for Montreal last season ended up going wrong in what was a perfect storm of chaos. From multiple coaching changes (assistant coach Perry Pern was first to go, then Jacques Martin was replaced by Randy Cunneyworth, who was then replaced this offseason by Michel Therrien for his second time behind the Canadiens bench), to injuries, to an in-season reshaping of the roster through a series of roster moves. Put it all together and it was the franchise's worst regular season performance in a decade.
Bergevin, in his first offseason as general manager, added a few minor pieces in free agency with the additions of Colby Armstrong, Francis Boulion and Brandon Prust, but none should be expected to have any sort of serious impact. Any improvement will have to come from within, and getting a guy like Gionta back, their leading goal-scorer during his first two years with the team, will obviously be a big help.