Long road ahead
A day after Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier announced that Gorges would need season-ending knee surgery, the 26-year-old blue-liner wasn’t ready to see the glass as half-empty just yet.
“I’ve had better times. This obviously sucks. As a player, you never want to be on the sidelines watching and it’s something new for me so it’s going to be difficult to deal with,” admitted Gorges, who has been playing with a torn ACL since his days with the Kelowna Rockets in 2002. “Obviously, right now, it’s tough to swallow and it sucks, but down the road I’ll have a good knee that’s 100 percent functional and working better than it has in seven years. I’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel at some point and when that day comes, it will be good.”
Although no date has been set for Gorges’ surgery, when he does finally go under the knife, he’ll have plenty of experienced former patients around to help him through the rehab process.
“I’ve talked to enough people like Marky [Andrei Markov] and Halpy [Jeff Halpern] and [James] Wisniewski who have had it done and you talk to doctors and you do your research,” explained Gorges, whose team-leading 150-game Iron Man streak came to an end following the team’s December 26 game against the Islanders. “We have good people here who are looking out for my best interests and I trust that what we’re doing is the right thing. I don’t have any regrets or any worries. I’m certain that this is the best move for me in the future.”
Set to become a restricted free agent on July 1, Gorges has already had some lengthy discussions with the Habs’ brass about what the future may hold for him in Montreal.
“The talks I’ve had with Pierre Gauthier have assured me that I’m in no jeopardy of losing what I’ve done up to this point,” confirmed Gorges, who has been a pillar on the Canadiens’ blue line since arriving from the Sharks in 2007. “I think that was something they wanted to stress to me, that they wanted to look out for my best interests. It wasn’t what was best for the team; it was what was best for me. That’s good to hear from the management side to know that I have their support to go out and get myself back to 100 percent healthy and they’re there to back me up.”
While the shot-blocking and penalty-killing specialist may not be able to help his teammates out on the ice any time soon, the young veteran isn’t about to stop chipping in off the ice, either.
“As an athlete and as a competitor, you want to be out there with your teammates. The hardest part is not being in the dressing room with the guys. It’s only been five games so far and it’s tough,” explained Gorges. “It’s tough to sit up there and watch them go to battle and not be out there beside them. But I want to do the best I can and stay positive and be here to support the guys with whatever they need.”
One of the Kelowna native’s best friends off the ice, Carey Price plans on making sure Gorges isn’t the only one showing his support over the next few months.
“Josh definitely battles out there and he plays through a lot,” described Price. “He loves the game, he loves to play and he doesn’t like watching. This is going to be a pretty trying time for him but we’re all going to be here to support him.
“Being injured isn’t much fun. You’re doing the same thing every day and it feels like Groundhog Day,” added the 23-year-old netminder. “You don’t really see any results, especially in the early stages. It’s going to be a test for him. He’s a big part of our hockey team. Especially for the last couple of years, he’s been one of those key shut down guys. He’s a big presence in our locker room so it’s going to be a big hole on our team.”
After seeing four Habs step up and block three shots apiece against the Penguins on Thursday night, Price knows Gorges has some big skates to fill but he’s expecting the team to rally to do just that.
“He definitely makes some key blocks, but you can’t rely on your defensemen to stop everything or I’d be out of a job. I just have to keep playing the same way,” affirmed Price. “We have young guys here that are really willing to step up and do the job and they’re motivated to step up and do well.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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