You know what I think of when flashing back to that play in the corner early in the third period of the Nov. 14, 2021 match at the Garden on which P.K. Subban took out Sammy Blais’ right knee?
I recall the comment made by an NHL management person during the 2012-13 lockout that it is the owners who take the risk.
Blais might take particular exception to that sentiment.
Because 14 months after the incident created by the Devils defenseman’s recklessness, and more than halfway through the following season, Blais’ game is not only in ruins but his NHL future is in jeopardy as a pending unrestricted free agent.
Blais was entering the second season of a two-year deal at an AAV of $1.5 million per when the Blueshirts acquired him as the main feature coming back from the Blues in the Pavel Buchnevich trade in July of 2021 as part of a designed makeover to include more physicality.
After going down for the count in Game 15 last season, Blais is working on a one-year deal for $1.525 million. He will undoubtedly face a problematic time of it on the open market this summer in this final offseason of the hard cap.
Now have one of the league’s barons talk about the risk of hockey.
The 26-year-old winger was designated as a healthy scratch for Monday’s game against the Panthers. This would mark his second straight, third in the last five games and sixth in the last 16 that Blais would watch in street clothes.
This is a function of Blais’ inability to keep up with the pace and regain his natural instincts after going through months of serious rehab following surgery to repair both a torn ACL and MCL. Everyone knew this was going to be difficult, but no one expected this return would be quite so challenging.
“It’s been real hard. I mean, there’s no doubt,” head coach Gerard Gallant said following Sunday’s practice. “He had an extremely bad injury, we all know last year, didn’t play at all, comes back this year and things haven’t gone the way he wanted to, for us or Sammy.
“He’s played some OK hockey at times and other times it looks like, you know, that he’s a step behind again. We just want him to keep working and have a positive attitude. In this game, things change in a hurry as we all know. We’re hoping the best for him, just keep working, stay with a positive attitude and when you get back, try and contribute.”
The Rangers entered the season with a hearty dose of wishful thinking as applied to Blais. Indeed, Blais was penciled in as right wing of the first line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider on their opening training camp depth chart. That’s where he had been for a third straight game when Subban took him out.
Read More: Sammy Blais’ NHL future in jeopardy after suspect P.K. Subban hit 2023-01-23 19:24:00